By Rick Palsgrove
The angular intersection of Main Street and Wirt Road continues to be a puzzle that both city of Groveport officials and residents are trying to solve regarding the safety issues there for pedestrians and traffic.
Citizens have expressed concerns about the safety of students passing through the intersection’s crosswalk on their way to and from Groveport Elementary and Middle School Central. Others have noted that the busy intersection’s unique shape is believed to contribute to driver visibility problems as Wirt Road connects with Main Street at about a 40 degree angle.
The most recent recommendation for improving the intersection came from Front Street resident Joellen Stebelton, who spoke at Groveport City Council’s Aug. 14 meeting. She suggested the traffic signal at Main and Front streets be removed and replaced with a stop sign only on Front Street at Main Street. Then, she suggested that a traffic signal be placed at the Main and Wirt intersection and a new crosswalk extended across Main Street to the east side of Wirt Road. She believes her idea fixes several issues.
“Front Street has become a thru street,” said Stebelton. “People ignore the ‘no right turn on red’ signs on Front Street at Main and speed on Front Street. There is a serious uptick in cars flying by trying to beat the red light.”
Stebelton added that recently she was almost hit by a vehicle while in the crosswalk at Front and Main streets and on the Fourth of July she saw a family of three almost struck by vehicle while in the crosswalk.
“That is thinking outside the box,” Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said of Stebelton’s suggestion.
Groveport City Administrator B.J. King took a copy of Stebelton’s proposal and said city officials would review it. He added that currently there are no plans for a redesign of the intersection and that officials continue to discuss the possible short-term and long-term fixes for the unique intersection.
Past ideas for Main and Wirt
Hilbert previously suggested the city institute a ‘no left turn’ from Wirt Road on to Main Street because it is difficult to maneuver a left turn there.
Last year Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst noted that eliminating left turns from Wirt to Main and Main to Wirt should be studied carefully because its consequences could cause traffic problems elsewhere at other intersections in the area as drivers try to find a way around such a restriction.
There is a building on the southwest corner of the intersection that makes it difficult for drivers on Wirt Road to see oncoming traffic on Main Street, so vehicles pull into the crosswalk on Wirt Road so they can see to make right or left turns on to Main Street.
Years ago, city officials once considered redesigning the angled intersection of Main and Wirt. That proposal was to close Wirt at Main and instead create a right angle intersection of Wirt Road and Front Street. However, the idea was dropped for various reasons.
Wirt Road was created after the Ohio and Erie Canal ceased operations in the early 20th century. The canal came through downtown Groveport at an angle from the northeast to the southwest. When the canal was abandoned, buildings were built on Main Street west of the canal route. Wirt Road sits where the canal towpath ran along side the canal and, because of this, the road maintains the same angled junction with Main Street as the canal route once did.