N.Baltimore goes round & round on speed at roundabout
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Monday, 24 December 2012 09:57
NORTH BALTIMORE - It's been operational for more than a month, but the roundabout in North Baltimore - specifically the speed limit approach - is still a cause of concern for village officials.
The speed limit eastbound and westbound on Ohio 18 approaching the roundabout is 50 mph. There are no signs posted to warn drivers of the upcoming curve; there is, however, such a warning heading south on Main Street.
But South Main Street signage is within village discretion.
But with the Ohio Department of Transportation having control of the signage on Rt. 18, village officials again expressed their displeasure at Tuesday's council meeting.
"It's stupid," said Councilman Jeff Bretz about the speed limit posting.
But, "It meets their criteria," explained village Administrator Kathy Healy.
ODOT prohibits the addition of any signs not approved by the agency, and to date, the agency has held firm on its decision.
"I really see that as a dangerous situation," Bretz continued.
Councilwoman Leslee Thompson said she has tried the roundabout at the posted 50 mph. "There's no way I could make the curve," she stated.
Mayor Mike Julien agreed.
"I can't imagine driving through there at 50 mph," he stated.
"The thing we don't want is this (speed limit) written in blood," he continued.
But it's not ODOT's intent to have drivers try the roundabout at 50 mph.
The roundabout, according to Mike Gramza, planning and engineering administrator for ODOT's District 2 office in Bowling Green, is not supposed to be traveled at 50 mph. Five to 15 mph is more reasonable, he said Friday.
He explained the agency bases its speed limit criteria on the Ohio Manual Uniform Traffic Control Device.
The curve entering the roundabout should alert drivers to a slow down for traffic ahead, he explained, and no other signs are needed.
As an example, he went on to explain there is no posted speed limit as you approach an intersection with stop lights. "It's just a known factor when you're traversing a roundabout."
"It's obviously something new to this area," he stated. "A time goes by, people will get used to it."
There have been discussions about posting additional signs in the area, but ODOT tries to conform to the state manual as much as possible, he stated.
"We're reluctant at this point to make any modifications," Gramza said.
Christ Waterfield, district traffic engineer, explained that speed limit criteria is based on what's along the highway. Outside corporation limits, the speed is 55 mph; inside, in a business district, it's 25 mph; in urban surroundings, it's 35 mph. In all other circumstances, it's 50 mph, he said.
Also of concern, west of the village, is where the new Rt. 18 and the now Business Rt. 18 split.
Ted Francisco, fire chief, said Tuesday there already have been three crashes at that site to date.
"I've almost been hit twice out there," he said.
Also at the meeting, council learned the village had received its $600,000 Community Development Block Grant through the CDBG water and sewer program.
The grant funding was delayed until CDBG conducted its own environmental study for the village Phase II water and sewer separation project.
The $6.4 million project will finish sewer separation on the north side of the village, from the railroad tracks north to Quarry Road, and Poe Road west to the village limits.
The first phase of the project, covering the south side of the village, cost $5.5 million.
The low bidder is Helms and Sons. With approval of the CDBG grant funding, Helms can start work on the project.
There will be a pre-construction meeting for all parties involved in early January, with ground being broken in late January or early February. The contract stipulates that the project will take no longer than 480 days to complete.