The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is expected to conduct an Access Management Study on Navarre Avenue (State Route 2) to examine the safety of vehicles pulling out of businesses onto the busy thoroughfare.
“There are a lot of accidents on Navarre between Coy and I-280,” Paul Roman, director of public service, said recently at an Oregon City Council meeting in response to a question by former Councilman Kathy Pollauf about brush obscuring the view of vehicles attempting to pull out of access drives on Navarre.
Roman said the city received funding two years ago from ODOT to conduct the Access Management Study. The city had planned to hire a consultant to proceed, but ODOT wanted to do the study, according to Roman.
“We were going to hire Dansard, Grohnke and Long Consulting [Engineers] to do the work, but ODOT’s central office kind of begged to do the work instead of us hiring a consultant,” said Roman. “They were supposed to have that work done a year ago. It didn’t get done. We’ve been calling, basically begging, for this work. We would have had this done if they would have let us do it with our own consultant – we would have had funding for it. I want to make sure that study gets done. It addresses all concerns with Navarre in getting proper access.”
The study will also analyze traffic lights on Navarre to ensure they are warranted.
For example, the location of a traffic light at Ralphie’s Restaurant on Navarre may not have been appropriate compared to the possible need for one at Harbor Drive near the Sonic Restaurant, he said.
“We thought it would be a more appropriate location for a traffic light versus the light at Ralphie’s and we do question that warrant,” he said.
The developer of Sonic, he said after the meeting, had designed a larger lot toward the rear, to the north, for the future development of a hotel. “That hasn’t happened yet. I know that lot is still there and available for development. If that were ever to occur, it’s likely that a traffic light would be warranted,” said Roman. “That is definitely an item the study is going to look at, to see what’s appropriate.”
There are several options to improve safety on Navarre, he added.
“The study will look at the number of driveways, seeing if there’s the possibility of consolidating driveways so there are fewer of them. I think there’s the concern of whether we should make drives `right-in and right-out’ only, in lieu of trying to pull across so many lanes. It’s easier said than done because the businesses are affected. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t put in u-turns and boulevard style islands, where it can be attractive yet safer.”
The study would also look at northbound Coy at Navarre, which may need a dedicated right turn to improve safety.
“There’s a problem with timing at Coy at Navarre. That’s to be addressed in that study. ODOT has promised me that we’ll have it here by late winter, early spring. I made it clear there better be grant money available when it’s done, because I want to use that study to apply for funding. I think it’s something we need,” said Roman.
The city has removed trees and bushes to improve the view of vehicles to oncoming traffic, he said.
“If you know of something in particular, let me know and we’ll definitely go take a look at it,” Roman said to Pollauf.
Pollauf said there were bushes affecting the view of vehicles at Isaac Street.
“Last I saw on Route 2, they were kind of going onto the sidewalk. When you come up to turn onto Navarre, there are bushes impeding the view when turning. If you go down there and check that out, that would be very good,” said Pollauf.
“Trimming trees for visibility is an art,” said Mayor Mike Seferian. “I have learned that art. And when I had figured out how to trim the trees, there’s no visibility problem thereafter.”
After the meeting, Roman said he has noticed an increase in traffic on Navarre after the road had been widened years ago.
“I think the traffic counts have always been there, but with the widening, counts have increased, to some degree,” he said.
“My concern, in general, are the people who wish to make a left hand turn at an area such as Navarre and Wheeling. There are certainly more than five lanes there. It is a question of, `Should there be a right in, right out only?’ If the city were to ever look at that in the future, how would we do it? One concept they may look at is the concept of a boulevard, where you turn out and make a u-turn either east or west of the traffic light. So there are ideas like that to look at,” he said.
Roman also said ODOT will do the study in the spring.