LEETONIA Official touts road widening plan

LEETONIA -- Village Administrator Gary Phillips says widening state Route 344 south of the railroad tracks and adding turn lanes will help keep and attract business in the community.
Adding the turn lanes would require widening the streets, and property owners there are concerned about that, he said.
The village has 60 feet of right of way for the road, and so can take up to 30 feet on either side of the road without infringing on property owners' rights, he said.
Phillips also noted residents and business owners shouldn't worry too much about the plan, because it's just one of many options to consider, and is barely on the drawing board.
"We're in the very, very, very early planning stages, he said. "We don't even know what ODOT will accept, if anything.
"Even if we had the plans approved today, it would still take a year or two before the project would actually start," Phillips said. "That's the way ODOT's schedule works."
Study: Phillips has met with Barry Miner, ODOT manager for Columbiana County, and engineers from Howells and Baird of Salem to study the feasibility of adding right-turn lanes on Hazel and Columbia streets south of the railroad tracks.
The way the streets are configured now, all westbound traffic on Columbia Street and northbound traffic on Hazel Street must wait until a train passes at the Chestnut Street crossing.
If a right-turn lane is added to Hazel and a left-turn lane to Columbia, motorists not wishing to travel north onto Chestnut would not have to wait in traffic, Phillips said.
Growth: He said planning for village growth must be done now, and deciding how to manage the potential increase in traffic is a part of that.
General Extrusions Inc. of Boardman is building a plant in the Columbiana County Port Authority's World Trade Park on the southwest side of the village, and Leetonia schools is building a new K-12 building on the north side.
"We've got GEI building at the industrial park and the waterlines out there are going in," Phillips said. "We don't have any idea what other businesses will go into the park, but hopefully there is going to be a pretty big increase in the truck traffic in the next couple of years.
"It won't be much of an incentive for a new business to come here if they hear delivery drivers complaining," he said.
"If the trucks can't make the turn at Hazel and Columbia, or they have to sit in traffic waiting on a train because they can't turn, that will be a big problem."

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