The Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio State Highway Patrol are launching a new Safety Corridor along state Route 18 in Medina County — a move that will include authorities cracking down on speeders.
The Safety Corridor, the second in the state, will stretch for 5 miles from Windfall Road on the western end to Medina Line Road on the eastern side. It goes into effect Monday.
“Troopers will be looking for traffic violations that cause many of the crashes in this area,” Patrol Lt. Mark Neff said in a prepared statement. “Roadway safety is a shared responsibility. Everyone can contribute to safer roads by following traffic laws, always wearing seat belts and never driving while impaired.”
ODOT had promised last year that the corridor was coming, saying there have been too many crashes and fatal accidents along that section of Route 18, which separates Sharon and Granger townships and serves as a main thoroughfare between Interstates 71 and 77.
The road has seen tremendous commercial and industrial growth over the last several years.
The state agency has made several changes along the four-lane road to improve safety, including installing speed-limit feedback signs, but motorists still routinely drive faster than the 55 mph limit.
"We can't engineer behavior," ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said.
Between 2008 and 2017, there were more than 683 crashes, including 10 deaths. Nearly half the crashes were due to motorists following too closely, officials said.
ODOT has been trying to reduce speeding on the stretch of road since 2016, and more improvements are coming. It plans to upgrade signals, add lighting at six intersections and install right turn lanes at three intersections in 2021.
The Safety Corridor will be marked with new signage alerting motorists when they enter and exit the area.
Jamiee McKinley, who serves as the office manager for Raymond James Zufall Financial Services on Route 18, said the traffic problems have gotten better since the state installed the feedback signs. Motorists see how fast they are going and will slow down.
"I've definitely seen fewer accidents," she said.
Others agree, saying they don't notice as much speeding as before.
"Everyone usually goes with the flow of traffic," said Nick Zegarac, general manager of Southern Select Auto Sales on Route 18.
But Jeff Vangor, manager at Sterling Farm Equipment on Route 18, said people are still going too fast.
"I do 55 and people pass you like you're sitting still," he said. "It's definitely a problem."
He added that he has no issue with law enforcement paying extra attention to the area.
"It doesn't bother me because I do the speed limit," he said.
The state's first Safety Corridor was created earlier this year along the 17-mile, high-accident portions of Interstate 76 and Interstate 80 that pass through Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Northeast Ohio.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.