Portage gives up traffic light PDF Print E-mail
Written by By DEBBIE ROGERS/Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 05:39

243497portage_rotator(Updated 2:22 p.m. 9-9) PORTAGE – Village council gave the green light to take out the lone traffic light in town and put in a pedestrian flashing light.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council also approved raising speed limits in Portage from 35 mph to 50 mph and 25 mph to 35 mph.

Mayor, council and a representative from the Ohio Department of Transportation all said the light removal and speed limits were compromises – no one was getting exactly what they wanted out of the deal.

David Dysard, district two deputy director, said ODOT wanted a 40 mph speed limit where there is a 25 mph speed limit now.

And the preference in Portage is to keep the traffic light that’s been around since 1929, and maintain the low speed limits.

“I think it’s the best we’re gong to get. I can’t say it’s the best for the village,” said Mayor Mark Wolford after the meeting. “It’s a compromise for both sides.”

Mike Stacklin, who said he has 32 years of traffic signal experience with Bowling Green, said he had a prepared speech with dozens of talking points. But his thoughts about the importance of the current traffic signal could be boiled down to one, he said.

The group homes in town desperately need the signal to cross the Route 25.

“They’ve got wheelchairs. They go real slow,” Stacklin said. “I’m just really concerned.”

Later in the meeting, he urged council to vote against the resolution, saying accidents in the intersection would “tick up” and eventually someone would die there.

“If you give up this traffic light, it’s gone forever,” Stacklin said.

Dysard said ODOT’s job is to balance the needs of all the residents in Ohio .

“I understand this is a very important and emotional issue for the village of Portage ,” he said.

He said part of ODOT’s research is watching the speed limit that people actually travel in an area, and about 80 percent of the drivers studied usually stick to the same miles per hour.

If speeds are posted different than what the majority of people naturally want to drive, it teaches disrespect for the law, Dysard said. Then law enforcement pops up and the speed limit is “grudgingly” enforced.

ODOT’s role is to move traffic safely around the state, he said.

“It’s not good public policy to have an unwarranted signal at that intersection,” Dysard said.

Councilwoman Marcia Wolford, chairwoman of the infrastructure committee, asked if the issue could be revisited if there are a lot of accidents or if the pedestrian light is repeatedly ignored by drivers.

“We constantly monitor every section of our highways,” Dysard said.

The new signal, which will be similar to the one on Mercer Road for Bowling Green State University foot traffic, will be installed at ODOT’s cost. The department will also take out the stop light and put up new signs warning of the pedestrian flashing yellow light.

Once the pedestrian signal is activated, walkers will have the right of way and traffic on Route 25 must yield. The new signal is expected to be installed between the post office and a vacant lot across the street.

Dysard said it would probably be functioning by spring.

An ODOT district planning engineer in May said the village should take the traffic signal down and raise speed limits, based on traffic studies. The traffic signal does not meet any of the eight warrants in the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Mayor Wolford also said Tuesday that the village will explore taking Route 25 down to two lanes from four. Grant money for such a project would help with visibility and pay for sewer and sidewalk repairs.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 14:21
 

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