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Marietta takes a look at possible traffic signal removal

City takes a look at possible traffic signal removal

City Engineer Joe Tucker explains to CJ Smith Mayor Josh Schlicher how the traffic study beginning this week at the intersection of Franklin and Market streets will change the lights from a green-yellow-red signal pattern to a flashing red pattern for 90 days. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

A traffic signal removal study begins this week at the intersection of Franklin and Market streets in Marietta.

Mayor Josh Schlicher and City Engineer Joe Tucker met at the intersection Monday to explain the goals of the study and ended up spending a little more than an hour with one of the neighborhood’s community organizers and avid proponents of street and pedestrian safety, CJ Smith, a resident of Market Street.

“I was out walking Bear (her dog) and then these two were on the corner and watched how hard it was for me to cross (Franklin),” said Smith.

So, she began asking questions about the new signs under black wrapping in front of the traffic lights and followed up on a long email she sent Schlicher with pedestrian and vehicle safety concerns for another street.

Tucker explained that the study at Market and Franklin will switch the lights at the intersection from a green-yellow-red signal interchange to a flashing red light and require a four-way stop at the intersection for 90 days.

This study, he explained, is to determine whether by the federal standard, the traffic at the light warrants a lighted signal or whether the intersection would prove more safe and efficient for motorists without the light.

“Removal of an unwarranted signal will eliminate excessive delay and disobedience of the signal indicators at the target intersections if these conditions exist because the signal is no longer needed,” claims one of the forms Tucker distributed Monday, penned by the Federal Highway Administration. “Signal removal should also decrease the use of inappropriate routes used by drivers in an attempt to avoid the traffic control signals and decrease the frequency of collisions.”

If both claims are to be achieved, then neighbors, motorists and pedestrians using the intersection and surrounding intersections may witness:

¯ Lower close-calls, or collisions.

¯ Faster passage through Franklin and Market streets by motorists.

¯ Decreased motor vehicle traffic around the residential neighborhood by directing more traffic through the Franklin Street thoroughfare, no longer avoiding the light.

However, what the FHA handout also identifies is that “right-angle crashes may increase after the signal is removed.”

It also acknowledges that the removal of a green-yellow-red light structure, “could delay the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists through the intersection.”

Parents of children living on the other side of the tracks, owned by CSX, have already noted their fears in allowing their children to cross Franklin Street to walk to Harmar Elementary and Marietta Middle schools as it stands because of perceived motorist ambivalence.

Smith on Monday echoed those concerns again and pointed Schlicher to watch multiple bicyclists and pedestrians cross in trepidation as she described concerns for walkability.

But between Thursday and Dec. 16, the city’s traffic engineering consultants, TEC Engineering, will perform the study counting vehicles passing through the intersection, turning and the directions in which they travel, pedestrian use of the intersection, school crossings, hazards witnessed, crash volume and peak hours of occupation.

The city’s traffic commission is then scheduled to discuss the removal process on Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m. in the second-floor conference room of 304 Putnam St.

When asked by both the Times and by Smith how the public can participate during the study by sharing concerns and experiences in using the intersection, two different answers were given.

Schlicher said an email will be provided for the public to send comments to during the study and will be on the signs to be unveiled Thursday, Tucker encouraged a “more prominent section” of the city website to direct the public to an intake survey and information about the project.

But the study of the use of the intersection is not the only action to be taken, said Schlicher, noting with Tucker that trees on three of the intersection corners impede visibility and either need to be trimmed or removed.

Schlicher noted that the two on Franklin Street at the southeast corner are to be removed by AEP, and listened to Smith’s notes about two other trees which have repeatedly lost branches due to tall box trucks and tractor-trailers passing from Gilman Avenue up Market Street to Fort Harmar Drive, or passing down Market Street to turn onto Franklin Street.

“This one drops branches that are too big for me to move, so you end up driving around them,” Smith pointed out as the three stood next to the closed church building on the northeast corner.

Schlicher also pointed out where road curbs on Market Street are nonexistent and where yellow paint to signal no-parking zones is not visible.

Then the pair, upon the insistence of Smith, turned their attentions to the failing street and stormwater issues, wheelchair inaccessibility, and questionable firetruck and emergency service access on George Street between the Washington County Historical Society’s headquarters at the Anchorage, and lower Lancaster Street.

The three plan to meet again to discuss short-term and long-term planning needs and actions for George Street, with invitations to a representative of the society, Streets Foreman Todd Stockel, Fourth Ward Councilman Geoff Schenkel, and upon recommendation of Assistant Safety-Service Director Jeff Skinner, Fire Chief C.W. Durham, on Sept. 21.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

¯ A traffic study begins at the corner of Market and Franklin streets in Marietta on Thursday.

¯ The study is questioning whether the traffic patterns and pedestrian flow warrant keeping or removing the lighted signal at the four-way intersection.

¯ The study’s parameters are scheduled to be discussed on Oct. 12 in traffic commission in the 304 Putnam St. second-floor conference room.

¯ Traffic Commission meetings are open to the public.

¯ Public comments, including experiences and safety concerns described in detail may be sent to mariettatraffic@teceng.com.

Source: Mayor Josh Schlicher.

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