Bulb-outs create new issues for motorists

When the bell rings for dismissal at Marietta Middle School, a steady stream of students come pouring down the hill to cross Glendale Road. Since 2015, a pedestrian island has been there, protecting those students as they make their way across a well-traveled road. The road was wide enough to accommodate it and as it’s not placed at an intersection, it slows but doesn’t hamper traffic flow.

Good idea.

Head downtown to Fourth and Washington streets and there’s another attempt to increase pedestrian safety. For two years, the intersection has featured four 15-foot radius curb bulb-outs meant to put walkers closer to the traffic and reduce how much road must be crossed. But the feedback from drivers has been that they extend too far, making turns there very difficult and leaving little margin for error. Since the project’s completion there have been complaints about drainage on rainy days, and pedestrians have said they don’t feel more comfortable crossing.

Bad idea.

That’s why we were very surprised when one of the plans for upgrades to Third Street to come next year included the same type of curb bulb-outs. These could be even more dangerous on that state route, which sees heavy truck traffic. We wish everyone was a perfect driver, making tight 90-degree turns without any miscalculation, and that no cars ever pulled beyond the stop line. But creating these narrow roads just doesn’t seem safe for drivers.

The decision hasn’t yet been made by the Ohio Department of Transportation as to which of two options they’ll select for the project but we really hope more government money isn’t spent on these unpopular bulb-outs that impede traffic. Pedestrian safety is extremely important but there are better ways to accomplish that–Rapid Flashing Beacons or another option being considered, which would take away some existing crosswalks and re-direct pedestrians to less busy side streets.

We hope the decision-makers on this take a drive and experience what was put in place in 2015 at Fourth and Washington before they make this call. We hope they have listened to the public, which has come out strongly against these bulb-outs.

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