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ODOT: Lancaster Street traffic light is not warranted

MILLERSPORT – Ohio Department of Transportation traffic engineer Ty Thompson told village council members at their Nov. 12 meeting that the village’s only traffic light – at Lancaster Street and Refugee Road – doesn’t meet any of the department’s criteria.

But the decision to keep it or remove it is solely the village’s to make. Since it is not a state signal or owned by ODOT, Thompson said, “ It is not an ODOT call.”

Mayor Dean Severance asked ODOT last summer to study the intersection after students returned to school. His request was prompted by concerns about northbound drivers on Lancaster Street passing vehicles waiting to turn left onto Refugee Road by driving into the marked area for pedestrians in front of the Circle K gas station.

Thompson said the study was conducted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12. The signal is not warranted, he reported, based on ODOT’s criteria for volume of traffic, safety (number of crashes in a 12 month period), or the number of pedestrians or students using a crosswalk at the intersection.

He suggested two alternatives to the light. Convert the intersection to a two-way stop with stop signs on Refugee and at the Circle K or into a four-way stop.

“Two-way will be a more efficient operation,” Thompson said, noting that three times as many vehicles are traveling on Lancaster Street as on Refugee.

“There is not that much traffic out there,” he added. “A two-way stop would be safer overall.”

Thompson said removing the traffic light would probably save the village about $1,000 a year in maintenance. If council members decide to remove it, it’s a four to six month process, Thompson said. First the signal goes on flash for 90 days and reviewed for crashes and traffic pattern observations. Assuming nothing unexpected occurs, the next step is to bag it for 60 days, preserving the ability to put it back in service should actual experience warrant it.

Council members didn’t discuss Thompson’s comments since Mayor Dean Severance was absent.

In other business, Police Chief Mark Consolo reported, “We now have an officer everyday of the week.” He hopes to achieve 24/7 coverage in the next four to six months. He said the department fingerprinted about 150 children during the annual Trick or Treat activities downtown.

Fire Chief Matt Bergum told council members that the independent fire association that owns the Lancaster Street fire station has purchased the house north of the station. “We bought it for the land,” he said. Fire department offices will be moved into the house to free up more space for living quarters in the station.

Mayor’s assistant Vince Popo said the pool had a $15,600 deficit this season. “The weather did hurt us,” he explained. He wants to start fundraising activities for next year right after the New Year.

Popo said the health department is testing for asbestos at the old Sohio station on Lancaster Street. The village now owns the decrepit structure and is anxious to demolish it.

The artwork for the new veterans memorial is done. A summer windstorm toppled the flagpoles, destroying the brickwork. Popo said the artist recommending installing it in warmer weather rather than on Veterans Day as originally planned. Popo is looking toward Memorial Day or Flag Day.

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