Hudson downtown crosswalk change in future plans

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- Moving a crosswalk from the south side to the north side of Main Street was a minor concession that Hudson City Council allowed Sept. 10 after rejecting all proposals by the city engineer to divert traffic from downtown.

City Engineer Thom Sheridan said the Ohio Department of Transportation will mill and repave state Route 91 from the state Route 303 to Clinton Street in 2015.

ODOT will pay 80 percent of the project costs. Federal funds will pay $476,000 of the $595,000 project, which includes traffic signals, resurfacing of the road, curbs, pedestrian crossings, bump outs, catch basins and sanitary sewer, according to Jody Roberts, communications manager. Federal funds may be available for part or all of the sidewalk and waterline replacements. The city will be responsible for trees, planters and the rest of the streetscape.

Council members and citizens have talked about improvements to Main Street for years, and Sheridan proposed a streetscape design from Park Lane to Owen Brown Street Sept. 4 to be completed at the same time as the ODOT project.

Although Council agreed to streetscape plans to remove clutter from storefronts, add trees and bump outs, it postponed talk about the crosswalk at Clinton Street until Sept. 10.

In addition, Sheridan wanted to know if Council wanted to make any traffic flow changes in the construction and streetscape design and include them so all of the improvements could be done at the same time.

"I want to know the direction before the design phase [in 2014]," Sheridan said.

Traffic often backs up at the Clinton and Aurora streets intersection with Route 91 because each lane has a separate light for traffic and additional time is taken up for crosswalk traffic. Sheridan wanted to know if Council members wanted to add a change, such as blocking off Clinton Street, as part of the design for the proposed Main Street construction.

"We have a bottleneck," Sheridan said. "This is the biggest traffic back up in our town."

To help reduce the congestion, a "no left turn" sign for drivers turning onto Clinton Street northbound on Main Street was installed at the intersection for peak hours a few years ago.

In 2008, GPD Group presented 21 options to improve the intersection, but only a few were seriously considered and none approved by Council.

Again, the top GPD Group proposals were reviewed by Council members Sept. 10 to determine if any should be included in the design before construction begins.

Council members disagreed with all the proposals to change traffic flow downtown, including making Clinton Street one way, blocking Clinton Street off at state Route 91 and the most drastic, aligning Clinton and Aurora streets by demolishing two buildings.

"There is no good option," said Council member Hal DeSaussure, who said cities in the east have much worse traffic problems. "Leave it alone."

Some Council members considered blocking off Clinton Street, but too many of them worried about the impact on businesses in First & Main and increase traffic on Owen Brown Street.

Sheridan said a temporary barrier could be erected to block traffic on Clinton Street to determine the impact, but Council members decided against anything but moving the crosswalk at Clinton and Main Street.

"My concern is that by doing something, it can have unpredictable consequences and spread the pain," said Council President David Basil. "But I agree to moving the crosswalk to the north side."

Basil defended the crosswalk change because the streetscape plan for Main Street included adding a sidewalk on the Green which would divert foot traffic and line up with a crosswalk on Aurora Street.

"It makes more sense with the Main Street improvement plan," Basil said. "People can get across Aurora Street."

Sheridan proposed updating the 2008 report for $50,000 to determine whether to implement the temporary barrier on Clinton Street.

"I have trouble spending $50,000," said Council member Dan Williams. "I hesitate about anything that would hurt those [First & Main] businesses by eliminating a direct ingress and egress. I can't support it."

Council member Dennis Hanink said to move the crosswalk and save $50,000 with no study. He reminded Council members that no one knows what a possible Phase 2 development of the downtown will look like or how it will impact traffic. Phase 2 improvements could impact Clinton and Owen Brown streets.

Basil said Council could revisit the intersection at a future date.

Sheridan said if traffic isn't diverted at Clinton and Aurora streets, he would look at other ways to resolve the congestion problem and try to funnel traffic in future projects.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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