NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Drivers may be doing double-takes along a stretch of state Route 83 after speed limit signs went up last week, returning the speed limit to 45 mph from 35 mph.
The move comes after the speed was lowered from 45 to 35 mph on a portion of the heavily-traveled road north of Center Ridge Road to Mills Road due to what city officials said were a significant number of accidents, including a fatal crash.
One confused driver who called The Chronicle-Telegram asked about the road’s “musical speed limit.”
“It was 45 (mph) for years and they changed it to 35, and now it’s back up to 45,” the man said in a message.
North Ridgeville Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster confirmed the boosting of speed limits between Mildred Street and Mills Road, which forms the border between North Ridgeville and Avon.
Between the beginning of 2012 and last autumn, 49 collisions were recorded on that portion of Route 83. One of those accidents, which occurred in August, claimed the life of Brian Rummel, 49, who died after his Kia sport-utility vehicle went off the road and overturned after crashing into two trees.
“We looked at the situation and felt that we should err on the side of safety here,” Armbruster said in October.
But now it appears the move to lower the speed limit was not warranted, according to results of a traffic study conducted by the city and Ohio Department of Transportation.
“The state notified us we needed to do a warrant study for the speed zone” after the city posted the lowered speed limit signs, Armbruster said.
The study weighed factors such as density of homes and distance between driveways in the portion of Route 83 with the lowered speed limit, as well as traffic volume and number of accidents, said Christine Myers, spokeswoman for ODOT District 3 in Ashland, which encompasses Lorain County.
“The state came back after they did an analysis and said 35 mph was not warranted for that area,” Armbruster said.
Police have not issued speeding tickets for drivers exceeding the 35 mph speed limit.
“We were not enforcing 35 mph until it became official (from the state),” Armbruster said.
Performed between Oct. 28 and 30, the ODOT study concluded that even with 10 collisions that resulted in injury between January 2012 and October 2013 factored in, a 45-mph speed limit was warranted, according to information sent to city officials by ODOT District 3 traffic engineer Julie A. Cichello.
The city was notified of ODOT’s findings in December, Armbruster said.
The raised speed limit was never formalized by ODOT, said Myers, who explained that changes in locally set speed limits for state routes must be submitted to and documented by the state.
State transportation officials received numerous calls from locals asking why ODOT had lowered the speed limit, Myers said.
The speed limit on Route 83 south of Center Ridge Road has remained 45 mph.
“The only reason we did it (lower speeds) was for safety reasons,” Armbruster said. “We were doing what’s right, but we were called on the carpet for it.”
The city wants to make another push at some point to lower the speed to 35 north of Center Ridge, said Armbruster, due to the fact drivers regularly go 60 to 70 mph in the area.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.