CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – Running red lights, distracted drivers and a hot spot for dangerous driving: NBC4 Investigates is questioning the safety of a road that’s seeing more commuters and more wrecks.
Earlier this year, a person suffered severe arm and leg injuries after a collision at the intersection of U.S. 23 and Tarlton Road just south of Circleville. That was just one of a dozen serious crashes so far this year.
In the last four years, there have been more than 60 crashes.
“I’d say 10 plus years it’s been an issue, but it’s been an increasing issue here recently because the increase of people traveling north and southbound,” Pickaway Township Volunteer Fire Department Captain Jennifer Mathes said.
When Mathes hears the call for a crash at U.S. 23 and Tarlton Road, she says she expects it to be bad.
“We’re seeing mostly bigger accidents. We don’t really get fender benders, most of the time they’re pretty serious,” Mathes said.
The volunteer firefighters are the ones who are usually first on the scene, the Ohio Department of Transportation is the one responsible for looking at what can be done.
“A lot of the crashes that we’re seeing here are either rear-end or drivers turning left,” District 6 Public Information Officer Hannah Salem said.
Dakota Ison and Mike Weese live in the Circleville area and drive this intersection every day.
“I think it’s one of the most dangerous intersections in the county,” Weese said.
Four years ago, a Circleville Township fiscal officer emailed ODOT with concerns about this intersection. ODOT said it would take a look.
We did too and our NBC4 investigation found the numbers have jumped. There were 8 crashes in 2020, 14 in 2021, 22 last year and as of August 14, 12 so far this year.
“I reached out to ODOT and said, ‘Hey, is there [anything] you guys got anything planned for this intersection?'” Ison said.
Ison sent multiple emails about different crashes to ODOT.
This was their response in early August: “At the moment, ODOT does not have any plans for this intersection. However, our safety team is aware of the crash history at U.S. 23 and Tarlton Road and will be taking a closer look at this intersection, including getting new traffic counts.”
“It can be nerve-wracking. Especially since I’ve had people run the light in front of me,” Ison said.
When NBC4 pushed ODOT on what those next steps might be, we were told there were plans to look at traffic counts and signal timing, with a spokesperson adding: “After reading the public’s concerns, our team decided that collecting updated traffic counts at the intersection was the necessary next step.”
Neighbors say they’ll believe it when they see it.
“I come to this intersection twice a day on my way to work and on my way home. And every time I’m crossing into the intersection, I always wait after the light turns for a little bit just to pay attention,” Weese said.
Weese said the signal timing could help but he’d also like to see a speed reduction and more police patrol.
“Friends and family always say they avoid this intersection because how bad it is,” Ison said.
ODOT says it plans to have the traffic counts collected by early October and any necessary adjustments will be made after that.
View the full crash reports below.