December 21, 2014

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Lorain Council considers removing 16 traffic lights deemed old, unnecessary

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Source: city of Lorain
LORAIN — A decision is expected in January about whether to remove 16 traffic lights deemed unnecessary in a draft of a study discussed Monday by the City Council’s Streets and Utilities Committee.

A child and an adult cross the intersection of W. 28th St. and Reid Avenue near Garfield Elementary School in Lorain. This traffic light is one of 16 City Council may remove. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

A child and an adult cross the intersection of W. 28th St. and Reid Avenue near Garfield Elementary School in Lorain. This traffic light is one of 16 City Council may remove. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

The report by the Akron-based URS Corp. is the first step in a four-part plan to replace or remove all of Lorain’s antiquated traffic lights by the end of 2018.

Lorain has applied to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a regional environmental and transportation planning group, for federal taxpayer money for new lights. The lights cost $200,000 each and federal money would pay 80 percent of the cost.

In addition to removing lights, city officials are considering changing some parallel parking spaces on Broadway to angled spaces which would remove one of the two northbound lanes and slow traffic.

Illuminated crosswalks are being considered near the Lorain Palace Theater to protect pedestrians. Safety/Service Director Robert Fowler told committee members the plan’s goals are maximum pedestrian safety, clear sight lines and ample parking.

Nonetheless, some residents criticized the report, which cost about $20,000. The lights slated for removal have been in a flashing mode since July or August and resident Pat Blakely said some drivers aren’t stopping for pedestrians at West 28th St. and Reid Avenue.

Blakely said children attending Garfield Elementary School are at risk and a red light is needed.

The light at West Sixth and Broadway Avenue also could be removed.

The light at West Sixth and Broadway Avenue also could be removed.

“Are you going to wait until a child is in the hospital or in a casket and have your ODOT book there reading to them the rules and regulations?” Blakely asked. “It’s ridiculous. These children cannot get across these streets to go to school.”

However, Fowler said the study showed there is not enough traffic at the intersection to justify a light. He said children are being asked to walk less than a block to 30th Street to cross where a crossing guard is stationed in the morning.

Phil Dore, Fowler’s predecessor as safety/service director, said sight lines need to be improved for drivers turning onto Broadway. He said removing lights could exacerbate dangers for drivers and pedestrians and hurt already struggling Broadway businesses.

Fowler said after the meeting that concerns will be considered before a final decision is made. He said the lights at 28th, Broadway and West Fifth Street and Broadway and West Sixth Street may remain.

Because the report relies on federal and state guidelines and Lorain is seeking federal money, Fowler said Lorain may be assuming liability for accidents that occur at intersections where lights recommended for removal are left up. “That’s the balance you have to weigh,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.