Gardner to assist Portage/ODOT talks

PORTAGE – Randy Gardner has offered to facilitate a meeting between village officials and the Ohio
Department of Transportation in ongoing talks about removing the lone traffic light there.
At Monday’s council meeting, Ohio Rep. Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said it wasn’t appropriate for him to
endorse a specific plan. But he did think additional time was needed to consider potential options and
that the village should not be under any sense of obligation to make a decision tonight.
Gardner said he had talked with ODOT representatives this afternoon "and they assured me there was
no necessary urgency."
ODOT, he said, could schedule a visit to the village or councilmembers could go to its office.
Councilwoman Marcia Wolford said both the infrastructure and public health and safety committees would
meet with ODOT.
The state department has recommended that the traffic light be removed and speed limits increased along
Ohio 25 in the village.
Resident Gary Deutschman said council should have been more aggressive with Gardner’s proposal. Gardner
spoke in the beginning of the meeting, then left to attend a forum in Weston.
"You all stand there with a blank look on your face. You should have jumped at the chance. I don’t
know if it’s naivety or what," said Deutschman, who lives on Ohio 25 in Portage.
Councilman Doug Maas assured him that there would be a meeting with ODOT.
"We will meet again," he said, "and do our very best to see that the traffic light is
maintained."
About 50 people attended Monday’s council meeting to discuss ODOT’s recommendations and police department
cuts (see separate story).
Jerri Slaughterbeck said she has a prime view of the traffic light from her job at the post office on the
corner, and how it helps Portage residents throughout the day. People use the light to get their mail,
use the park and walk their dogs.
"Changes need to be made, that’s true. But to take the light out is a mistake," she said.
"I think people need to step back and take a breath and see what’s best for the village."
Tim Murphy had a dire prediction if the light was removed.
"Someone’s going to get killed there sooner or later," he said. "I don’t think the
solution is taking the light out and jacking the speed limit up."
Harold Yoder said the inconvenience of a motorist stopping at the light at 3 a.m. was mild.
"Big deal. If it saves a life, all the better," he said.
Linda Glomski said ODOT officials should realize that Portage has four lanes of a state highway running
through it, which is unlike Pemberville or Haskins, which also have state routes but they are two lanes.
She said the speed limit on Route 25 is decreased to 25 mph as it goes through Bowling Green, just like
it is now in Portage.
Jennifer Noland was concerned about children trying to cross Route 25 for bus service to Bowling Green
schools.
"If the traffic light does go, I’m hoping they put a stop on this side," she said.
Mayor Mark Wolford said he has been in contact with school transportation officials. He has also written
letters to Gardner and State Sen. Mark Wagoner, R-Toledo, and ODOT, and made a presentation to the Wood
County Commissioners. He also collected 200 residents’ signatures on a letter, all in favor of keeping
the traffic light.
"It’s been a huge information-gathering process," he said after the two-hour meeting.
Monday’s discussion ended with Marcia Wolford recommending that it be postponed until another meeting
with ODOT is held.
At council’s May 18 meeting, an ODOT district planning engineer said the village should take the traffic
signal down and raise speed limits, based on traffic studies. The traffic signal, installed by the
village in 1929, does not meet any of the eight warrants in the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control
Devices.