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Studies seek safer roads for Boardman pedestrians

PAVING WAY FOR SAFER STREETS FOR PEDESTRIANS in boardman

Trailers monitoring speed have been moved around Boardman Township by the police department in an effort to watch speeding through neighborhoods. While the equipment is not used to write tickets, there are cameras that help law enforcement decipher repeat speeders in slower zones....Staff photo / Ashley Fox

BOARDMAN — A series of studies is underway in Boardman Township on pedestrians and vehicle traffic.

Collaborative efforts among multiple agencies are focused on two traffic veins in the township: U.S. Route 224 and Market Street.

Officials across the board said they find no pattern to pedestrian-involved crashes, as they seem to occur at all hours of the day and have not been confined to one area on either road.

Both roadways are maintained by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the addition of any pedestrian crossings to the heavily vehicle-traveled roads would be under its authority.

MARKET STREET

Between 2016 and 2020, nine pedestrian and two pedal-cycle crashes occurred on Market Street with four fatalities, between Western Reserve Road and the Youngstown city boundary, according to ODOT.

That stretch of road sees about 20,000 vehicles per day in a typical year.

Two crashes occurred in daylight – in April and September 2016 – while the rest happened at night.

At least three people involved were wearing dark clothing at night.

Three crashes happened near the Route 224 intersection, with one of those in daylight hours.

U.S. ROUTE 224

Route 224 from state state Route 625 (Lockwood Boulevard) to Tiffany Boulevard sees an average of 35,000 vehicles per day in a typical year.

In the same time frame of 2016 to 2020, six pedestrian accidents and one pedal-bicycle crash took place, with one fatality reported. Four happened in daylight.

Three crashes happened west of Market Street.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Ohio State Highway Patrol post in Canfield and Boardman Township police handle the investigations of crashes in these areas, in conjunction with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

Having no real pattern to follow makes it difficult for investigators to pinpoint solutions, said Lt. Brad Busey.

“Along with ODOT, we’re trying to figure out what is causing” pedestrian crashes, Busey said. “It doesn’t seem it’s within the same spot.”

Factors causing the crashes are “all over,” Busey said. “There’s no one certain time period, it doesn’t have to be dark,” he said.

“We don’t know what’s the cause or what to do,” he said.

Due to the amount of traffic on Route 224 and Market Street, it is not feasible to have crosswalks or lights at every intersection.

Busey compared traffic on Route 224 to the popular video game Frogger, with pedestrians trying to cross the road but dodging vehicles in both directions.

The highway patrol has turned to local media to caution pedestrians and drivers of the dangers associated with the two roads, Busey said.

Law enforcement has taken to an educational approach, stopping to talk with pedestrians and reminding them where to safely cross the roads, said Boardman police Chief Todd Werth and Sgt. Glenn Patton, who is in charge of the department’s traffic division.

The Boardman department has taken to writing traffic citations to pedestrians crossing in areas not designated for foot traffic.

“If we’re talking to you a second time, there’s a problem,” Patton said. The first time, officers will educate and have a dialogue with people, which usually works, he said.

“We have stopped and talked to pedestrians along each shift,” Patton said, to remind them they are “going up against” vehicles that travel 50 feet per second if they are at a rate of 35 miles per hour.

At that rate, vehicles “cannot stop on a dime,” Patton said.

STUDIES

A Pedestrian Systemic Safety program is in development from ODOT. Funding will be sought for future pedestrian-safety countermeasures.

A comprehensive study is analyzing Route 224 from Mill Creek Park to the Tiffany Boulevard intersection. Data collected will develop long-term capacity improvements and safety in that area.

“We are taking a good look at the entire corridor to see how we can make it safer for motorists and pedestrians,” said ODOT spokesman Justin Chesnic.

Patton also said there are efforts by the police department to watch speeding around the township.

Two trailers are moved around the township, through neighborhoods and busier corridors to gauge traffic, alerting motorists of their speed.

The trailers are equipped with cameras, not to ticket anyone, but rather to identify people repeatedly disregarding speed limits.

A resurfacing project of Route 224 last year included the addition of audible countdown pedestrian signals at the Amherst Avenue intersection near Jay’s Hot Dogs.

Similarly, resurfacing of state Route 7, or Market Street, between state Route 164 and Youngstown will see the addition of pedestrian signal heads and actuation buttons for a crosswalk that will go across the north side of the Stadium Drive signal this year.

Coming in 2024, at the Indianola Road and Shields Road intersection of Market Street, various safety improvements will be added, including a designated crosswalk on the north leg and reconstruction of the sidewalk and ADA-compliant ramps.

KEEPING SAFE

Law enforcement officials stress wearing reflective and bright-colored clothing when walking outside, especially at night.

In April, a woman was struck by a car and killed as she crossed Route 224 just west of Amherst Avenue, a crosswalk. Investigators confirmed she was wearing dark clothing in misty rain at night.

Typically, Patton said it seems as though pedestrians wear dark clothing at night, and don’t always use crosswalks or traffic signals, where lighting is better.

The state patrol also reminds people when walking, make sure to face oncoming traffic.

Pedestrians are supposed to walk against traffic, so motorists can spot them a bit easier, Busey said.

People should also walk in grass or on sidewalks and not in the roadway, he added.

Each member of law enforcement also stressed pedestrians should not use their phones while walking, which also goes for motorists. It also is illegal to have headphones on both ears while driving, Busey said.

It’s also important to try to carry a light, or turn a cellphone flashlight on so motorists can see there is someone walking at night.

Pedestrian safety doesn’t stop with pedestrians. It is also important for drivers to be cognizant of their surroundings, said Patton.

“People get into habits, and get comfortable. They don’t always pay the proper attention,” Patton said.

He suggests that motorists get into a habit of periodically moving their head, looking to the side, rather than staring straight ahead.

“It makes you more aware of your surroundings. It prevents tunnel vision,” Patton said.

“Safety of the community is everyone’s responsibility” from law enforcement helping people follow laws and guidelines to pedestrians and motorists using roadways, said Werth.

afox@vindy.com

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