A final public meeting on proposed traffic and pedestrian safety improvements to the intersection of Pike, Greene and Seventh streets drew approximately 30 people to the Graham Auditorium at Washington State Community College Wednesday evening.
"The purpose of this session is to let you know what we know about this project, and to get your input," Marietta City Engineer Joe Tucker explained.
He said the city did not want to do a project that the public does not want, and encouraged those attending to fill out comment forms stating any concerns or recommendations they may have pertaining to the proposed $3.2 million intersection upgrade.
"We'll use your input to help shape a final solution for the intersection-even if that results in a no-build scenario," Tucker said.
The proposed preliminary design alternative, supported by the engineering department, would include dual left turn lanes for northbound traffic from Ohio 7 onto north Seventh Street as well as dual left turn lanes from north Seventh Street onto Ohio 7 north.
The current left turn from north Seventh Street onto Greene Street at the Speedway store would be eliminated in favor of a right-turn only onto Greene from Seventh and a right-turn only onto Seventh Street from Greene.
A questionnaire and comment sheet on the proposed Pike, Greene and Seventh streets intersection improvements can be downloaded from the www.pikegreene7th.com Web site.
Forms are also available through the Marietta City Engineer's Office at 304 Putnam St.
Deadline for comments on the project is Dec. 31.
For more information visit the engineering department link at www.mariettaoh.net or call (740) 373-5495.
A signal-protected left turn lane would also be provided for southbound traffic on Ohio 7 to turn onto south Seventh Street. A pedestrian island would also be installed at that location.
Other improvements include the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant signalized pedestrian crosswalks and curb ramps across Ohio 7 as well as across Greene and north Seventh streets.
In addition, the alley that now exists along Hardwood Center Drive and old Pike Street, just east of the intersection, would be improved to a two-lane corridor between Greene and Ohio 7 to provide access to businesses located in that area.
Tucker said more than 225 traffic crashes were logged within a 1-mile section of Ohio 7 that includes the Pike, Greene and Seventh streets intersection between 2003 and 2005. The area was ranked the 187th worst in all of Ohio, according to a 2005 Ohio Highway Safety Program study.
Studies show there were 63 crashes within the intersection between 2003 and 2005, and that figure increased to 79 crashes between 2008 and 2010.
Tucker said those facts helped secure $2.4 million in Ohio Department of Transportation Safety Funds, in addition to $504,150 from the Wood, Washington, Wirt Interstate Planning Commission for the intersection project.
"Normally we would go from here right into final design with an intersection project," he said. "But we've heard some concerns about the proposal and wanted to step back, take another look and gather more public input."
One of the main objections to the project has been the elimination of the current left turn from north Seventh Street onto Greene Street (Ohio 26).
Resident Linda Showalter, who has lived in the Norwood area for 37 years, said she regularly makes that left turn on her way home.
"I'm also concerned (if the left turn onto Greene is eliminated) that traffic will go out Pike Street to the signal intersection near Burger King, then turn left across two lanes and travel past Phillips Elementary School to get onto Greene Street," she said.
Eric Lambert, city engineering project manager, said he had driven that route and agreed the roadway which runs directly in front of the school was a bad idea.
He also said he could understand the convenience of turning left from north Seventh Street on to Greene in order to reach the Norwood area.
"But I also have to look at this from an engineer's viewpoint," Lambert said.
He noted one Norwood resident said without the availability of a left turn onto Greene it would take 15 minutes to drive out Pike Street to Acme Street, then north on Acme to reach her home.
But Lambert said he and fellow project manager Jarrod Schultheisz made several test runs over various routes from the downtown area into Norwood, and the longest average travel time was 6 minutes and 19 seconds.
"And not being able to make the left turn onto Greene from Seventh resulted in 39 seconds more travel time and 0.3 mile additional distance to reach the Greene and Acme streets intersection in Norwood," he said.
Norwood resident Dean Woods said one reason for so many accidents in the Pike, Greene and Seventh streets intersection is vehicles making a left turn onto Greene Street from the Speedway convenience store parking lot.
He noted that the traffic study results showed 37 percent of accidents occurring in that area of the intersection.
Phillips Street resident Richard Nicholson expressed concern that not allowing the left turn from north Seventh onto Greene would create a problem for emergency vehicles. He said that turn allowed quick access for fire trucks during a recent blaze that occurred within a block of that intersection.
Tucker said he had met with Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham and his staff who had expressed similar concerns about the ability to turn left onto Greene during emergency responses.
He said the barrier curb that would be used to prevent the left turns would be designed so that emergency vehicles could make the turn when needed.
Oakwood Avenue resident Keith Gutberlet said he also opposed elimination of the left turn onto Greene because many people who work in the industrial park areas off Ohio 26 near Broughton's Dairy access that location via Greene Street.
Owners of businesses at the intersection also expressed some concerns.
Ben Cogswell of Apex True Value said tractor-trailers entering and exiting the lots for his store and Food 4 Less often have difficulty getting back out onto Ohio 7 north (Pike Street) from south Seventh and south Sixth streets.
Tucker said access issues would be worked out with local businesses in the area during the final design phase of the project, if city council decides the work should continue.