AUGUSTA — State officials hope a planned realignment of the southbound offramp that brings traffic off Interstate 95 west onto Western Avenue at exit 109B will reduce the number of accidents there.

State Department of Transportation officials plan to make the ramp, which now comes into Western Avenue on a curve, connect with the avenue at a 90-degree angle. Also, instead of yielding to avenue traffic as they do now, drivers exiting I-95 will be required to stop before pulling onto the avenue.

A study of accidents at the site indicated that between 2011 and 2013, there were 91 crashes on the offramp, according to John Rodrigue, project manager. That, he said, is too many, and is an accident rate “way above tolerable.”

“There are a large number of accidents at that intersection, a lot of inattentiveness when people come to that intersection, so there are a lot of rear-end accidents there,” Rodrigue said. “We had to take a look at that intersection.”

Sight lines are also bad at the intersection now, Rodrigue said, so some trees, next to the nearby highway overpass, will be cut down as part of the project to improve the ability of motorists to see oncoming traffic as they pull onto Western Avenue. A new pedestrian crossing and new LED lights also will be installed.

“It’s a safety improvement project, and we’re going to improve the sight distance, looking easterly, to try to eliminate” accidents, Rodrigue said.

The roughly $335,000 project probably will be advertised to contractors in March, with a contract likely to be awarded in mid-April and construction possibly beginning the last week in April. Rodrigue said the project completion deadline is Nov. 20.

He said the offramp probably will be shut down for much of the project. Traffic that normally would use it will be directed instead to the nearby exit 109A, which provides access to Western Avenue both to the east and the west.

“We’ll redirect traffic to the next southbound ramp, which brings you back around so you can go towards Winthrop or Augusta,” Rodrigue said. “We’re fortunate to have that.”

The work at exit 109B is expected to take place at the same time as other planned work on and around Western Avenue this summer, including a “mill and fill” resurfacing of all four lanes of Western Avenue from around Edison Drive to just beyond Senator Way, and a realignment of the exit 109A offramp, which carries traffic off Interstate 95 and onto Western Avenue’s eastbound lanes. The Western Avenue work probably will take place at night, while the off-ramp work will take place primarily during the day, Rodrigue said.

An informational meeting about the project is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at Augusta City Center. State transportation officials will describe the project and have a PowerPoint presentation on their preliminary designs for the exit 109B offramp realignment.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj