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Neighborhood discusses hazardous road conditions around Franklin Street Corridor

Middle school students are escorted to a pedestrian refuge island on Glendale Road by Mellissa Farley on Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Adjusting to the virtual world that coronavirus has imposed even on Marietta, one neighborhood civic organization offered its residents, business partners and aligning nonprofits a chance to watch how west side consensus is reached.

In attendance and on-camera Wednesday were Fourth Ward Councilman Geoff Schenkel, Main Street West Chairman Jackson Patterson, MSW Pedestrian Safety Lead Coordinator CJ Smith and Sherry Ellem, of the Washington County Health Department and Creating Healthy Community Coalition.

Note: The discussion presented was provided technical support and facilitation by The Marietta Times to allow for social distancing, to view and listen to the full discussion and its exhibits

see the bottom of this article

on www.mariettatimes.com or visit the Times’ Facebook page.

Existing conditions

Utilizing dash camera footage, Patterson described how high traffic and speed from the off-ramp from Ohio 7 feeds hazardous conditions from Virginia Street to Putnam Avenue along the Franklin Street Corridor.

A tractor-trailer pulls off of Franklin Street in the lower west side of Marietta and onto Clinton Street on Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

What he described, affirmed repeated observations of neighborhood residents at Main Street West meetings throughout 2020, and complaints Schenkel reported hearing from constituents consistently since 2018.

Visibility, the group noted, is the common theme.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, visibility is centered on two components; being able to see and being seen.

The group reviewed in the context of pedestrian safety and sharing the roadway, that visibility is the topic at hand when asked:

Who else is on the road and around you?

What are they doing?

When do you see them?

Where are they?

Patterson explained in an example at the intersection of Clinton and Franklin streets how visibility is hindered both by a tractor-trailer, and by parked cars on the southbound side of Franklin.

PROPOSED TRIAL RUNS

The four participants also looked at photos of how the same conditions identified by neighbors as problems along the corridor are addressed both outside and within city limits.

Bicycle lane

At Clinton Street’s entrance onto Franklin Street, with the aforementioned visual impairment caused by the tractor-trailer, one suggestion advanced was to try (in a pop-up demonstration facilitated by the Washington County Health Department) a bicycle lane adorned with potted plants this spring.

“On the west side, we’re trying to make it welcoming,” described Smith. “Slowing the traffic down; and I think it’s more of a welcoming, homey-type atmosphere.”

The idea also saw public excitement from viewers including those involved in riverbank and pollinator plantings in other parts of the city.

Bulb-out

A curb extension to create both clear boundaries for parking and a shorter distance for pedestrians within a crosswalk to traverse a street is demonstrated on Front Street, across from the Armory.

Pedestrian refuge/island

On Glendale Road, below Marietta Middle School on Wednesday, Mellissa Farley served as a crossing guard when the school let out students.

“Some people will still blow through even if you’re standing in the gap here,” she described, noting that the island offers some added distance protecting herself and the students she supervises from the passing vehicular traffic.

However, one critique she shared was that the blinking lights above do not stay on long enough for an average walker to complete the crossing of both lanes.

Blinking lights at crosswalks

According to the Marietta city engineer, the blinking lights installed above the passage at the middle school are called rapid flashing beacons; such beacons also appear at a crossing over Third Street between Washington and Montgomery at Sacra Via.

Street furniture

Thrice in the conversation, Schenkel noted years of progress while working between city personnel, labor and the Washington-Morgan Community Action transportation representatives to enhance public transportation through the Community Action Bus Line.

Schenkel also previewed a project he plans for his business, REsolve Studios to implement a triple-use installation of street furniture through erecting a bus stop for CABL, in the studio gardens at the corner of Franklin and Putnam Avenue.

See a later edition of the Times for the vision of that installation.

Public art

From painting crosswalks to incorporating community murals designed and painted by residents’ feedback was also positive concerning the ways to slow down drivers with a more “vibrant” view as one viewer noted.

The idea is also one that has already seen support by Marietta Safety-Service Director Steve Wetz for the completed Flander’s Field basketball backboards project in 2020 and the proposed painting of crosswalks entered into Community Development Block Grant discussions by Main Street West for 2021.

WHAT’S NEXT

Patterson, Smith and Schenkel also previewed the next step for the lower west side residents to provide feedback and fine-tune which proposed trial runs would be well-received by residents and business partners.

Details for that meeting are as follows:

¯ Who: Main Street West neighbors, residents and west side business owners.

City officials, historic or other civic organization representatives and the general public not living or working within the lower west side are asked to only attend virtually to allow for social distancing in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.

That virtual offering is expected to be broadcast via Facebook Live on the Main Street West Facebook Group.

¯ When: 6:30 p.m., Sunday.

¯ Where: Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman Ave., Marietta.

¯ Agenda: Discuss survey/poll results, identify priorities of neighbors and outline next steps in pursuing partnerships and grants.

View the discussion here

Interact with Wednesday’s exhibits here

Public Sharing the roads by Janelle Patterson

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