Portage rallies round its light

PORTAGE – The fate of the lone traffic light in the village remains in limbo, while the mayor, council
and even residents search for a way to keep it.
At Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Mark Wolford said he has sent another letter to Ohio Department of
Transportation officials, requesting they attend a public meeting to further explain why the light has
to be removed.
Portage residents Michael Brinkman and Gary Deutschman have done their own research which, they say,
strongly supports keeping the traffic light.
Brinkman’s main concern is that site conditions haven’t been properly evaluated. There are also numerous
safety concerns, he said, in the area, including two elementary bus stops and use of the intersection by
Enright Park visitors, the young, elderly and persons with disabilities.
Deutschman said he did his own homework. In a meeting with ODOT, he was told the Portage light and road
set-up was similar to only Pettisville in Northwest Ohio.
During a visit to the Fulton County community on Monday, Deutschman said he found no state highway going
through the village.
"I have yet to see a village in Northwest Ohio that has a four-lane highway running through it with
sidewalks and (restricted) site views," he said.
In May, ODOT told the village to take down the light, which doesn’t meet any of the eight warrants in the
Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and raise speed limits from 25 and 35 mph to 40 and 50
mph. The light has been on Ohio 25 across from the post office since 1929.
It had appeared a compromise between had been reached earlier this month, with ODOT proposing to install
a pedestrian crossing light in place of the traffic signal.
Portage residents, though, turned out in full force at the July 6 council meeting to oppose that
After the meeting, Wolford said he won’t rule out a pedestrian light replacing the traffic signal, but
wants to continue discussions with ODOT.
"It’s not off the table," he said. "I don’t want to lose that option but I don’t want it
to be my only option just yet."
Brinkman said that in his talks and e-mails with ODOT, another solution has emerged: Making Route 25 one
lane through town, which would add on-street parking and green space to the downtown area. This would
have to be funded by the village, he said. Portage in April was put into fiscal emergency status by the
state auditor.
Also at the meeting, council:
¥ Appointed Janice Pash to the zoning board of appeals.
¥ Thanked the Lions Club for sponsoring the Fourth of July parade.