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ODOT Removal sought of some stoplights


Published: Mon, September 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


Dunkirk's mayor said the village will go to court to keep the traffic signal.
TOLEDO (AP) -- Ohio transportation officials have been pressuring towns to take down signals at intersections without a lot of traffic or accidents.
Having a traffic light at a low-volume intersection can be more dangerous than not having one, the Ohio Department of Transportation says.
The agency wants signals removed from intersections that don't meet at least one of 11 criteria, including traffic volume, accident history and intersection layout.
The northwest Ohio town of Dunkirk faces a Sept. 23 deadline from ODOT to agree to remove a stoplight that has regulated traffic at the intersection of U.S. 68 and Ohio 81 for more than 50 years.
Kirk Slusher, planning administrator for ODOT's District 1 office in Lima, said a traffic study and review of accidents at the intersection show the light is doing more harm than good.
Accident record
During a five-year period starting in 2000, 17 collisions were recorded at the intersection, Slusher said. Of those crashes, nine occurred when a motorist went through a red light on U.S. 68, and two were caused by red-light runners on state Route 81.
Four crashes were rear-end collisions caused when drivers struck another vehicle that braked for a red light on U.S. 68, Slusher said.
"We're saying that if the signal was not there, the accidents would not have happened," he said.
But Dunkirk Mayor Pam Ruhlen disputes ODOT's findings and said the village is ready to fight in court to keep the light because many trucks use the intersection, along with buses from the Hardin Northern and Kenton school districts.
"This light needs to stay because of safety for our kids, our residents, and I just can't see us taking that light down," she said.
ODOT officials point to the intersection of state Routes 199 and 105 in the small town of Scotch Ridge, about 18 miles south of Toledo.
In 2003, ODOT announced it would remove a 54-year-old stoplight from the intersection after determining that traffic volume no longer justified a signal there. Instead of the light, ODOT said the intersection would become a four-way stop. The old stoplight, which ODOT still plans to take down, blinks red in all directions.
At the time, Webster Township Trustee Mark Bushman warned that turning off the light would make the intersection more dangerous. But to his surprise, Bushman said last week, that hasn't happened.
"I guess I'm fairly pleased the way it has turned out," he said. "I'm not aware of any close calls or accidents there, so hopefully it'll stay that way."
Officer replaces light
After a tractor-trailer rig struck a low-hanging signal last April in the village of Luckey, near Bowling Green, ODOT decided not to replace it, even though it helped children cross state Route 582 to an elementary school.
Since then, Luckey's five-member police department has stationed an officer to control traffic at the crossing when children are coming to and leaving school.
Police Chief Eric Shiffler said that is working for now, but he would like the light put back up.
"I realize that putting a traffic light anywhere is kind of detrimental to everybody, but when you're talking about the safety of kids, a little inconvenience to a motorist is a pretty small price to pay," he said.


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