October 16, 2003



Source: Northern Gateway & Bicycle Committee; Graphic: Yellow Springs News


Council considers installing traffic signal at 68 and 343

Village Council is considering whether to follow an engineering recommendation to install a traffic signal at U.S. 68, State Route 343 and Cemetery Street.

At the same time, Council is also contemplating whether to pursue a project to improve the Cemetery Street parking lot and connect it to the bikepath with a bike spur, which would run through the Bryan Community Center’s front lawn.

The traffic signal recommendation was part of a study of the U.S. 68 corridor, conducted by TEC Engineering of Cincinnati and funded by a $14,750 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. TEC, which released its study last month, offered several other recommendations, including installing left turn lanes at 68 and Corry; reducing some on-street parking near Xenia Avenue’s intersections; and installing better parking signs around town.

If the Village decides to install a traffic light at 343 and 68, it would try to do so as part of a project that will upgrade traffic lights in Yellow Springs. Funded by a $415,000 grant from the state and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), the larger signal project will replace traffic lights on Xenia Avenue at Corry, Limestone and South College Streets, and at Dayton and Walnut Streets. While the grant also includes a light at Corry and Dayton, the Village found that a signal is not needed there, and instead wants to keep using stop signs at the intersection. The signals are expected to be installed in late 2004 or early 2005.

At its meeting Oct. 6, Council discussed the traffic light and the Cemetery Street parking lot projects, but deferred making a decision on either until its next meeting Oct. 20, in favor of receiving more community input.

In its 96-page study, TEC said that the intersection of 68, Cemetery and 343 is considered safe. The firm also reported that community members have expressed concern about “excessive delays and safety” at the intersection, especially on Sundays, when traffic from Glen Helen and John Bryan State Park can back up on 343 as vehicles try to turn left.

Council member Joan Horn, who used to be the director of the Glen’s Outdoor Education Center, which is located off 343, said that placing a light at the intersection was “long overdue.”

Mike Reichert, who has lived at 343 and 68 for 12 years, said that he opposed installing a light at the intersection. He said a traffic light would not alleviate traffic backups, which he called “manageable,” and would “be extremely detrimental for my property on the corner as well as my quality of life.” He also said that local residents “should know enough to stay away from that intersection.”

Though not directly tied to the 68 study or the traffic signal grant, the “Northern Gateway” project is finally receiving attention from Council, thanks to an available state grant that MVRPC would distribute. The project is estimated to cost $350,000, of which the Village would have to pay 30 percent, or about $110,000. This possible expense did make some Council members pause. Council president Tony Arnett, for instance, questioned whether the Village could afford its share of the project.

Council is considering whether the Village should apply for the grant, which would be due in mid-November. After the meeting, Village Manager Rob Hillard said that he thinks the Village has a good chance of receiving the grant.

The gateway project, which was developed by the Northern Gateway/Bicycle Enhancement Committee, a subcommittee of the Village Planning Commission, would include improving the Cemetery Street parking lot and connecting it to downtown with a bike spur. The lot would include 130 spaces, 50 of which would sit on pavement, the rest on gravel and grass, committee members reported last week.

The committee designed the project to provide additional parking, mainly for people who come to Yellow Springs to use the bikepath.

The project would also include a 14-foot wide steel bridge that would traverse the stream that separates the Bryan Center from the Cemetery Street lot. The committee believes that if a bridge were placed over the stream and the Bryan Center ravine were spruced up, people would use the area more often. The front of the Bryan Center “could be a destination,” said John Struewing, the chairman of Planning Commission who has also served on the gateway committee.

The project could be completed within the next three years, Hillard said.

Initially, the committee proposed relocating the Covered Bridge from Glen Helen to the Bryan Center, though the bridge is not included in the proposal before Council. The committee also discussed ways to “better utilize” the Bryan Center’s front lawn, said Ted Donnell, an architect and committee member. This included reorienting the parking lot’s entrance and building an amphitheater, both of which would not be included in the grant proposal. Hillard called these suggestions “very preliminary.”

The Village is also considering a third unrelated project that would realign the 68, 343 and Cemetery Street intersection. Though it is not part of the signal project, realigning the intersection would help with traffic flow, Hillard reported.

The project would cost approximately $275,000. A grant through MVRPC is available, and the Village would be required to pay an estimated $70,000.

—Robert Mihalek