New Stimson Avenue/50 interchange is a recipe for disaster

If safety is the operating principle, it’s fair to estimate 50% of attempts to navigate the exit in moderate to high volume traffic will end in failure.

To the editor:

Rather than serve up knee jerk, the following was held in abeyance until a half dozen opportunities presented themselves to navigate the Stimson to S.R. 50 eastbound “exchange,” at different traffic volumes.

What the h – – – was ODOT thinking?


Before saying another word, invitation is extended to any having some degree of responsibility for this pinch point, bottleneck, meat grinder or eventual deathtrap to do the same.

Fill several passenger cars with brass. Place an average to less experienced driver behind the wheel of each and loop “casually” across the interchange a half-dozen times in both moderate and heavy traffic. Hot coffee, surround sound, a borrowed family dog and five-point harnesses are optional. Data recording is not.

For anyone already having navigated this interchange, instant replay is as follows:

Exit the round-about and accelerate from 15–20 mph to 40-50 while surveying two to three lanes of traffic traveling at highway speed on an oblique, rear-right, uphill landscape, simultaneously attempting to merge, cross over and merge yet again with cars spaced little further apart than most are able to smoothly parallel park in, all in the span of approximately 10 seconds.

(Forethought for antagonists: Lineal feet from round-about exit to on-ramp entrance — whether “textbook” or not — is almost immaterial, as traffic density and speed are the primary controlling factors.)

All of the above entirely discounts simultaneous hazards developing ahead from drivers attempting the same or similar navigation.

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If safety is the inviolate operating principle, it’s fair to estimate 50% of all attempts to fully navigate the exit in moderate to high volume traffic will end in failure. Unfortunately, in real world conditions, safety isn’t inviolate, all too frequently the first thing jettisoned by drivers who in a blink opt to enter if not redline “hazardous” in order to get where they feel a need to be.

Again, what the h – – – was ODOT thinking?

(Enter the phalanx of rationalists attempting to answer that question literally — as if doing so is synonymous with addressing the real time problem, which through thorough lack of thinking from charrette to shovel has become manifest.)

Johnson Rd at S.R. 33 was deemed hazardous enough to close only after a decade of observation, adjustments and “dialogue.” There, despite wide vistas of fairly extensive visibility, predominately singular instances of flawed judgement were the point sources of accidents. The Stimson to S.R. 50 interchange is completely disparate by comparison — a Cuisinart of traffic densification, nonexisting lines and/or narrow windows of sight, multiple simultaneous errors of operators’ poor judgement (short following distances), accompanied with merging and crossover traffic, all waiting for someone in the first nano-second of haste, divided or lack of attention to hit the “pulse” button and initiate frappe mayhem. One can only ask if it will take ODOT equivalent years as with Johnson Road before acknowledging the Stimson to S.R. 50 interchange to have been less than adequately thought out.

As for solutions? One is to immediately take years of “dialogue” off every burner and initiate the installation of a strictly enforced speed reduction zone — not an easy sell to bureaucrats who will with a large degree of probability first ignore or downplay the error (“wait and see”) or obfuscate reason with (ir)rationalizations (“the road paint hasn’t yet dried”).

Short of that, and painfully macabre, would be to open a betting pool — much like the annual Tanana River ice breakup — where the annual number of accidents, injuries and fatalities at the interchange are waged upon every year and the pot awarded on October 31. That and the accompanying national recognition may be the only way to get ODOT to fully engage its brain and effect change — before it’s too late rather than after.

Todd Swearingen
Guysville, Ohio

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5 thoughts on “New Stimson Avenue/50 interchange is a recipe for disaster”

  1. It will take one or multiple deaths in that interchange before they will start the mentioned “review process”, and that is really messed up.

  2. Did you take the first roundabout exit after entering from Stimson? You “can” get to US 50E from there, but doing so would not be legal because it would mean crossing a solid white lane marker.

    1. I don’t think you’re using the roundabout the way it’s intended if that’s the experience you’re having, but maybe using it the “old way”? You should be using the second exit. They do need more signage though, hopefully it’s coming.

      1. The point is you exit onto no man’s land and then can’t safely cross over to go toward Guysville. Last week I purposely went clear to Athens to turn around and go toward Pburg safely.

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