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Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

New Bremen council OKs left turn lane

By Jeff Elking

Cars drive through the intersection of East Plum Street and South Washington Str. . .

NEW BREMEN - Council members on Monday approved proceeding to add left turn lanes at the intersection of Washington and Plum streets despite homeowners' continued resistance.
Members voted 5-1 for the project and to apply for a grant that could pay for up to 50 percent of the cost. The deadline to apply is in October. Member Jim Kronenberger cast the only dissenting vote.
Kronenberger told the newspaper this morning that he voted against the measure because he didn't believe all possible options were considered to help the traffic issue. He also said be believed taking away customer parking at a business located there would be wrong.
"We recently removed parking on the northwest corner on Plum Street so trucks can make that turn from northbound (State Route) 66 onto westbound Plum Street," he said. "By putting in that turn lane, the trucks will probably again have problems turning."
The intersection experiences traffic issues only a few times a day. During those times, a turn lane is warranted, Kronenberger said. However, the rest of the time it's not.
Homeowners who live near the intersection attended the meeting at the Lockkeeper's house and questioned the value of the left turn lanes and the resulting loss of parking spots in front of their homes.
In response, Choice One Engineering representatives Alan Heitbrink and Craig Eley presented the results of a traffic study they had conducted. Initially, the review was contracted to consider a proposal to upgrade the traffic signals, which are "nearing the end of their useful life," Heitbrink said.
Eley said such upgraded studies require a review of all the project's needs, which would include arm bars for the signals, moving the poles back, adding new American Disabilities Act-compliant curbs, pedestrian push-button devices and left turn lanes. Eley shared information from federal guidelines, which state, "adding a single left turn lane is one of the most common approaches to improving safety and reducing delay at an intersection."
Choice Ones' study found 10 accidents at the intersection in the last six years. Six of those were rear-end collisions.
Midday studies show 800-900 vehicles pass through the intersection around noon with 79 drivers making left turns, which, according to standards, warrants a left turn lane. Traffic in the 4:30-5:30 p.m. time was within five vehicles of falling within the guidelines for a left-turn lane.
Eley summed up the report, saying the left turn lanes would be a safety and operational improvement. It may reduce the number of accidents, and motorists should experience less delay. Although farther away, off-street parking would still be available to homeowners.
The men said the new traffic signals also would have radar-detection systems, which would allow the light to remain green for Washington Street until movement is detected on Plum Street.
Some residents asked to try the sensors without the left turn lane to see if that would help improve the traffic flow. The lane could be added later if it was deemed necessary. Others wondered if the lane, which is not planned to be signal protected at this time, would provide enough benefit.
Mayor Jeff Pape said grant applications are very competitive and heavily scrutinized. Not including the lane, which would be deemed a safety improvement, in the grant application, could be a deciding factor.
Pape called for the discussion to close at 7:25 p.m. and asked council members to vote on the project.
In other news, vendors from the Saturday morning farmers' market in the Amsterdam Center parking lot told officials the lot's owners have asked whether they had ever received approval to sell there. Pape suggested moving the market to the Lock One Park area.
The vendors said that site has only one entry and exit, which could cause traffic-flow issues. They requested Pape to ask the owners for approval to continue to operate in the lot.
In other action, council members,
• approved after third reading a resolution to allow police chief Mike Skinner to purchase a K-9 unit, vehicle and equipment and associated training not to exceed $85,000. They also dispensed with third reading and approved in emergency fashion an ordinance to establish a K-9 Unit Fund to accept village or private donations.
• gave first reading of a resolution to increase funds for pumps at the wastewater treatment plant. The plan is to buy one new pump, repair one for current use and repair another one to be used as a backup.
• gave first reading of a resolution authorizing the south water tower to be painted and the north tower to be cleaned at a cost not to exceed $35,000. If approved, the work would be completed in late fall.
• learned from village administrator Chris Dicke that paving of State Route 274 through the village coordinated by the Ohio Department of Transportation and scheduled street resurfacing on village streets are both planned to start Sept. 5. The village portion will include milling, paving, applying reclamite to seal the surface and then striping of the streets.
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