Portage residents oppose pedestrain light/crosswalk


PORTAGE — Village residents told the mayor and council not to yield to the Ohio Department of
Transportation’s request that the traffic light in town come down.
About 30 residents attended Monday night’s council meeting, with everyone who spoke urging village
officials to reject ODOT’s offer to put up a pedestrian light and crosswalk in place of the traffic
signal on Ohio 25.
“It’s time for us to stand up and say we’re not going to take it,” said John Foos, who has owned a
business downtown for 17 years. “We’ll see you in court. Make them make their case.”
Over the weekend, Mayor Mark Wolford said he would recommend that council adopt the pedestrian light.
However, council could not vote on a recommendation because there was not a quorum. Jay Sockman, Tamara
Sharp and Doug Maas were absent.
Wolford and other village officials met with ODOT administrators last week about the light. In May, ODOT
officials told Portage Council to take the traffic signal down and raise speed limits.
“We can’t save the traffic light,” Wolford said tonight.
A new pedestrian signal would be similar to the one on Mercer Road for Bowling Green State University
foot traffic. The Portage crosswalk would flash yellow when a pedestrian presses a button. ODOT would
also put signs up warning of the pedestrian crossing ahead, Wolford said.
Residents weren’t impressed.
“Is it wrong for us to try to protect our citizens?” Foos said, urging council to unanimously reject the
pedestrian crosswalk. He also wondered how a truck traveling 40 to 50 mph would be able to stop for a
pedestrian crossing the road.
Michael Brinkman said Mercer Road in Bowling Green, which has pedestrian crosswalks, has been the site of
“The college students have issues (trying to cross),” he said. “They think it’s going to work on a state
highway with significant truck traffic?”
Mike Schmitz said drivers purposely avoid the village now because of the light and the decrease in the
speed limit. Those drivers, though, will hop on Route 25 if they know the light’s not there.
“Once that light’s gone, the traffic’s going to increase,” he said.
Schmitz also said he wanted Village Administrator Ron Sharp held accountable for “triggering” ODOT’s to
investigation into the light and traffic situation. Sharp was not at Monday’s meeting.
After the meeting, Foos said a flashing yellow light will be confusing to drivers, who will probably
think it means use caution, not stop for pedestrians.
“The reality is people are not going to take their foot off the accelerator. They’re going to blow
through town.”
Wolford said he would ask ODOT officials to attend a public meeting in Portage.
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, first installed by the
village in 1929, does not meet any of the eight warrants in the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control
Wolford campaigned for the light, contacting school transportation officials, writing letters to Ohio
Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green and Sen. Mark Wagoner, R-Toledo, and ODOT, and talking to the Wood
County Commissioners. He also collected 200 residents’ signatures on a letter, all in favor of keeping
the traffic light.
Photo caption: Main intersection in Portage. (Sentinel-Tribune photo)

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