To the Editor: Why should Portage have to accept unsafe conditions?
Written by Mike Brinkman   
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 09:11
As a resident of Portage I would ask those that do not live here if they would accept the following in their community:
A four-lane highway dividing the town that does not have on street parking with sidewalks a scant three feet of paved shoulder from traffic; the post office 10 feet from traffic; houses 10 to 20 feet from traffic; the only park on the highway where the only pedestrian access is the sidewalk; there are obstructions to safely view oncoming traffic at two of the three intersections; all of the residents must get their mail at the post office, as it is in many small towns, but resident can only get their mail during business hours meaning many residents can only get their mail before work during peak traffic hours.  
Would you accept 40 mph with no traffic signal?
I have read the reports provided to the Village of Portage by ODOT and they were not, to my knowledge, provided with any information or items indicating that any of these situations were addressed in the traffic study performed by ODOT. 
In the letters from ODOT there was not any discussion of the obstructed views; no indication that the proximity of the pedestrian walkways were evaluated for safety at the increased speeds; no indication that the pedestrian crossing was evaluated for safety if the traffic signal was removed and the speed limit raised; no discussion of the potential impact on traffic accidents; no discussion of the accidents that have occurred in Portage when the light was not functioning.
Should the residents of this community that have to live with the impact on safety allow these concerns to go unaddressed? Should we accept unsafe conditions because we live in a small town?
Without a traffic signal an able bodied adult would not be able to cross this highway on foot safely during peak traffic times let alone the elderly, children, and disabled that live in this town. Should all of us have to drive the few blocks to use the park, get our mail, go to the convenience store, or go to vote?
On days when the weather permits I walk down to pick up my kids from the sitter living on this highway, I will never feel that it is safe to walk with my small children along this highway with the sidewalk immediately abutting the paved shoulder and no buffer zone between the traffic and the pedestrian walkway if the speed limit is raised.
As a resident of Portage I believe that the traffic signal must remain and that a 40 mph speed limit is too high. I believe the traffic signal could be changed to operate as a traffic actuated light with pedestrian push button control and the speed limit may be appropriate at 35 through the entire town. But, any change must be made with a thorough review and must address the concerns of those that are subjected to the traffic on a daily basis.
Mike Brinkman

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