Traffic study: Motorists not speeding at Walnut

High Street lights expected to return in one week

By Andrea McKinney -

A new study completed since the lights have changed in downtown London shows the average motorist is driving the speed limit at the intersection of Walnut and High Streets.

Steve Hume, the city’s safety-services director, presented the results of the traffic survey to London City Council during Thursday’s meeting.

The study — called a Stealth Stat survey — was conducted by the London Police Department in front of the London Fire Department from Sunday, Aug. 16 until Friday, Aug. 21.

It was administered to examine speeds at the intersection. Some have expressed concerns that vehicles may quickly round the corner without the intersection’s red light to slow them, Hume said.

The speed limit for the area is 25 mph.

During the study period, 59,193 vehicles were recorded, averaging a speed of 24.86 mph. The highest recorded speed was 60 mph. Hume said he is guessing that vehicle was a law enforcement or fire rescue vehicle, but there is no way to confirm that.

Less than 1 percent of traffic exceeded the speed limit by more than 10 mph.

The highest flow time is between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with 80 percent of the traffic. Peak traffic occurs on weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m.

The same survey will likely be completed in front of the Subway store at High and Madison, Hume said.

The city has been experimenting with traffic signal changes for the past two months, following the recommendation of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

First, the lights on High Street at the intersections of Union and Oak streets went to a flashing yellow light for two weeks, while the signal facing the side streets went to a red flashing light. Then, the same two-week experiment was performed at the intersections of Madison and Walnut.

For about the last three weeks, all four intersections have gone to flashing lights.

The experiment was triggered by a recent ODOT traffic safety study, which showed lights at the High Street intersections of Walnut, Union and Oak streets, as well as Madison Road, are no longer necessary. Only traffic patterns at High and Main streets warranted a signal light, the study revealed.

Hume said all lights will go back to normal in about one week when the four-week experiment is completed. At that point, city council will decide what happens moving forward.

Hume recommended council hire an engineer to present a cost analysis of various traffic options, including the price to time the lights, add a dedicated left turn lane, and pressure-sensitive signals, among other options.

Council member Dick Minner asked Hume what it would cost to install pressure-sensitive signals.

Street superintendent Nate Ernst said via a text to council president Patrick Closser, which he read aloud, that cost would be $1,500 to $2,500 per light per direction.

“Assuming our controllers can handle it,” Hume added.

Hume noted he has received “several thanks yous” from members of the public regarding the change.

Prior to Hume’s presentation, resident Ruth Gorman expressed to council her concerns with the traffic changes. She said she nearly saw a child riding a bicycle get struck by a vehicle trying to cross High Street.

“Being the county seat, we need to set the example for safety,” she said.

In other business at Thursday’s meting:

• Following a lengthy discussion and three public hearings, council voted to vacate an alley between KFC and the market building, located 58 E. High St., but rejected legislation to re-plat the property in the area.

The topic was brought forth by the two business owners, who are negotiating their own private agreement.

Elmer Olsen, representing the city’s planning commission, recommended council approve the re-platting. He said the current plat is not accurate, and shows a city property line going “through the middle of the chapel” of the former St. John Lutheran Church.

Law director Zahid Siddiqi suggested the city allow the matter progress to court. He said Ohio law does not give council the authority to approve the re-platting.

Council members agreed with Siddiqi’s recommendation.

Council also approved vacating an unrelated alley near Miller Avenue.

• Legislation was introduced to offer health insurance to the city’s mayor, as well as allow the city auditor to participate at the same cost as other employees. Auditor Katie Hensel noted that she has been paying an employer’s share, but the city’s ordinance does not require her to do so. The legislation was left on for another reading.

• Resident Doug Pyles addressed council to express concern with several topics, including the city’s consideration of purchasing the former ODOT building on U.S. 42. He suggested the city work to consolidate its offices in the former London Primary School.

“That’s where you need to spend the money,” he said.

Reach Andrea McKinney at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.
High Street lights expected to return in one week

By Andrea McKinney