By Dedra Cordle
To many residents in Prairie Township, Beacon Hill Road is a beacon for trouble.
“It’s chaotic,” said Carolyn Fellows.
According to Fellows, the chaos begins in the morning when motorists use the residential street as a West Broad Street bypass and it seldom lets up throughout the day.
“Not only is it congested, but they don’t obey the speed limit or seem to know the rules of the road,” she said. “It’s very unsafe.”
Wanting the issue fixed, Fellows attended a community meeting on Aug. 16 to offer input on how to quell the problems of the road. She was one of nearly 60 residents who came out to the meeting that oftentimes turned rowdy.
“We’re just tired of this,” said Shannon Kelsey-Knapp.
For nearly two hours, consultants with Stantec listened to opinions and gave some possible solutions to address the traffic issues along Beacon Hill Road between the intersections of Sturbridge Road to Old Village Road.
According to Stantec engineer Brian Hagerty, there are multiple scenarios to lessen the traffic and traffic-related issues that have been plaguing the road. Among the possible scenarios given were the installation of traffic circles, speed tables, curb extensions and median islands along that stretch of roadway.
Of the possible solutions, one of the least popular with the crowd seemed to be the installation of additional traffic circles.
“They haven’t done much good,” said Michael Davis, referencing the installation of two traffic circles and one roundabout on Lawrence and Buena Vista Avenues and S. Grener Avenue, respectively.
He said he feels the traffic circles have not done an adequate job of rerouting traffic, slowing down speeders or mitigating the danger posed to pedestrians.
“I had to grab a kid out of a crosswalk before as someone was going through the circle at a high speed,” he said.
He added that one of the worst things the township did was remove the four-way stop signs near these locations.
He asked the consultants if re-installing the signs were an option.
Hagerty said it is a possibility, but conceded that it is unlikely to happen.
“We will look into whether they can be put back, but I don’t think you’ll like the answer,” he said.
Stantec planner Eric Lowry cited federal guidelines for four-way stops as to the reason why the four-way stops are unlikely along most of Beacon Hill Road.
One resident that expressed acceptance of a traffic circle or roundabout was Lorri Varney, who stated she would only want them installed if they resembled the pattern on S. Grener.
“I think that has calmed traffic in that area,” she said.
She added that it helps that motorists seem to know what they are doing when navigating the roundabout.
As this was a gathering of information meeting, none of the proposals were settled upon, nor did the board of trustees discuss the issue at their following regular meeting.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the trustees are likely to discuss the matter at the Aug. 30 meeting.