December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria officials consider lowering speed at Ford Road hairpin turn

Elyria officials may reduce the 25 mph advisory speed limit at the sharp curve on Ford Road by the renovated bridge. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Elyria officials may reduce the 25 mph advisory speed limit at the sharp curve on Ford Road by the renovated bridge. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — The speed limit near the hairpin turn at the top of the hill on Ford Road might get lowered.

Signs call for a speed of 25 mph. City officials could lower it to 15 mph because of safety concerns.

“We are definitely looking at it based on what is going on out there,” City Engineer Tim Ujvari said. “It’s not a legal speed limit, but more of advisory signage for the area. We can change it.”

The renovated bridge and road reopened to traffic late last year. It didn’t take long before the guardrail along the turn to get damaged. There’s a wide cut in it.

Ujvari said he found the damage while driving on the new bridge after residents called to say the speed limit was too high to safely navigate the turn. He wanted to check it out for himself.

“Traffic studies will always tell you that people drive five to 10 miles higher than whatever is the posted speed limit,” he said. “In this case, 25 mph is appropriate, but based on what we know about driving patterns, I am looking at reducing that to 15 mph.”

The new Ford Road bridge opened Nov. 15, years after the one-lane bridge that it replaced was closed to traffic due to safety concerns. The new bridge is two lanes and sits higher over the Black River than its predecessor.

Drivers who traveled the old bridge will remember the tight turn. Not much has changed.

“When they replaced the Ford Road bridge, we were surprised to see that they didn’t straighten the curve at the top of the hill south of the bridge,” said Gwynneth Beil, who has lived on Ford Road for several years. “The blind curve is very sharp … and narrow. But the really bad part is the warning signs approaching the curve from the top of the hill. They say 25 mph for a 90-degree curve. But it’s much sharper than 90 degrees.”

To help drivers safely navigate the area, Ujvari said additional signage likely will be placed at the location as well the reduced speed limit.

He does not need the approval of the Ohio Department of Transportation to change the speed limit on the low-volume road. He hopes to have it done by the spring.

Police Capt. Chris Costantino said he and police Chief Duane Whitely both recently test-drove the road and believe a change is appropriate. He did not have information available Thursday on when and how the guardrail was damaged.

In the meantime, Ujvari said drivers should be careful.

“Drive for the conditions,” he said. “You have to drive for the road conditions and adhere to the posted advisory signage.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.