By EMMALEE c. TORISK
Less than a week after the installation of a four-way stop at the intersection of state Route 616, Fifth Street and Lyon Boulevard, the vast majority of comments from Mohammad Asif’s customers have been negative.
“A lot of people are complaining,” said Asif, who owns the Shell gas station on Route 616. “They’re not expecting it. No one likes the stop sign, but something is necessary at the intersection.”
Asif said he’d seen several accidents occur at the intersection prior to the installation of the multi- way stop. Many of them involved a driver’s failure to stop at one of the two existing stop signs at either the east leg of Route 616 or Lyon Boulevard, he said.
The four-way stop just doesn’t make much of a difference, Asif said, adding that he noticed an accident soon after its installation. A traffic light or even a three-way stop, with a stop sign added to Fifth Street, might be more effective, he said.
“The four-way stop is not necessary,” Asif said. “[Drivers are] not noticing it. They don’t even realize what’s going on until they’re in the middle of the intersection.”
City officials, however, said they’ve heard both positive and negative comments about the new multi-way stop.
“I’ve had people call me up and thank me. I’ve had people call me up and call me names,” said Ed Wildes, safety service director. “We plan to monitor it, and are open to suggestions. It’s here to stay.”
Wildes said the multiway stop, along with additional warning signals, took just four hours to install on Wednesday, but added that planning had stretched back for several months and involved public hearings and a feasibility study.
The study, conducted by MS Consultants Inc. of Youngstown, found that the intersection warranted a multiway stop because of the recorded traffic volumes and the amount of correctable crashes — or the number of accidents that could have been prevented with the installation of a multi-way stop.
Mayor Terry Stocker said although he and other city officials had been aware of accidents at the intersection, the study revealed even more.
In addition, many area residents expressed concern over the potential increase in traffic after the Struthers Credit Union’s relocation to the corner of Fifth Street and Route 616, Stocker said.
“We wanted to slow traffic down and make the intersection a little bit safer” for cars and pedestrians, Stocker said. “There are some people who said, ‘You know what? It’s not that bad,’ and there are some who are not used to it.”
Wildes agreed, adding that “people were confused at first.”
“Everything is smoothing out,” he said. ‘Any time you change something, you tend to get more of the negative side.”
Asif suggested that the city needs to consider complaints about the four-way stop, but that those who aren’t in favor of it also need to give it time.
“Safety is good, but if it’s annoying and people don’t like it, people aren’t going to let it go,” he said. “The city needs to emphasize that they’re doing it for protection — not to hurt them.”