STOW — The busiest intersection in Stow and one of the busiest in Summit County will undergo improvements, starting next week.

According to City Engineer James D. McCleary, almost 50,000 vehicles flow through the Graham and Darrow roads intersection daily and he says it is the highest reported intersection crash site in Stow. Saying "the city … takes our residents’ safety as a top priority," McCleary says the "safety improvements" planned for the corner will include the elimination of a traffic island, new signal poles, handicap ramps, resurfacing and striping.

Removal of the island is the keystone of the improvements, McCleary says, because it will increase the turning radius for trucks, allowing them to turn right from Darrow Road onto Graham more easily. 

"Traffic studies show that approximately 30 percent of the crashes in the intersection are caused in the northwest quadrant and are somewhat related to that traffic island," McCleary reports.

The project is anticipated to take three months to complete, the city engineer says, with the total cost estimated around $800,000. Stow was awarded about $693,000 in Federal Highway Safety Funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation which will cover the majority of the project costs; the city will bear the remaining expense. The Stow engineering department will serve as the lead agency on the project, with Shelly and Sands handling construction duties.

Message boards will be going up in the vicinity of the intersection to alert drivers to construction-related traffic changes. McCleary says the right turn-only lane southbound on Darrow Road will be closed when the traffic island is being removed. During that period, the adjacent lane on Darrow Road which is currently designated for traffic going straight will have to temporarily accommodate both vehicles going straight and making right turns, according to the engineer. Truck traffic desiring to make a right hand turn will be required to continue on Darrow to its intersection with state Route 59, McCleary says, "because they won’t be able to make that sharp turn until the intersection is rebuilt."

McCleary grew up in Stow and makes his home here today and has been the city engineer since 2011. He says the city has rebuilt the intersection several times over the last 30 years in response to increasing traffic.

"We’re very fortunate that Stow has experienced growth," McCleary says. "But we want to make sure we accommodate traffic and make it safe, and that’s what this project will do."

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, or @EllinWalsh_RPC.