By Linda Dillman
Columbus Street residents are fed up with motorists speeding down city streets and hope a temporary speed bump petition drive will force Canal Winchester city officials to permanently address the problem.
The residents, along with homeowners from Waterloo Street, plan to present their petitions to Canal Winchester City Council on Sept. 4. Resident Jackie Marion said the group hopes to have 75 signatures and will also provide a map indicating participating households.
“There has been a speeding problem for as long as I have lived here,” said Marion, a Columbus Street resident for 23 years. “A study was done last year after we complained in mass at council the last time, but it indicated there was less speeding. That’s hard to believe.”
Marion called the study results “incredulous” and wondered how the statistics were analyzed.
She said with the amount of new home construction to the east and south of Columbus Street, she found it difficult to believe in the accuracy of the report.
According to Marion, previous efforts to curb speeding involved construction of bump-outs at Columbus and Trine streets to slow down drivers turning off of Trine.
“They are basically worthless,” said Marion. “Vehicles fly down Trine, in most cases don’t even come to a full stop and continue west on Columbus. I walk my dogs twice a day on Columbus and few vehicles even allow me to cross at the cross walk. I do not even try now for fear they will hit us. Motorists in Canal Winchester are just determined to drive around town with no regard for pedestrians or respect for community.”
A group of concerned residents conducted a grass roots effort on the first day of school to slow down drivers. They placed eight poster-sized signs on vehicles parked on both sides of Columbus Street to slow traffic.
“There was some awareness and slowing of vehicles,” said Marion. “We also are reduced to shouting at passing drivers to slow down, but many just speed up or wave at us.”
When asked about speeding on Columbus and Waterloo streets, Fairfield County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Forrest Cassel said, according to their statistics, it is typical for city traffic.
“We have received complaints about speeders in this area,” said Cassel. “We have concentrated traffic enforcement in this area. The speed trailer has also been used and has been effective in this area. We have done speed surveys in this area and the typical speed is 25 to 28 mph. The deputies have written several citations in this area. Drivers are in a hurry and do not wish to abide by the speed limit.”
In an effort to curb speeding in the area, Cassel said deputies will concentrate patrol efforts and ticket violators.
“We receive speed complaints throughout the city and concentrate patrol efforts accordingly,” said Cassel. “I also have a deputy that is specifically assigned to traffic enforcement.”
Canal Winchester Public Works Director Matt Peoples said there were previous efforts to install speed bumps on East Columbus, Dietz, Pfeifer and Waterloo streets, all of which are considered main thoroughfares.
“We have had a few on an alley in the past and we had temporary speed bumps on Dietz Drive when we detoured all of the Gender Road traffic for the Gender/Lithopolis roundabout construction, but we do not have any on the streets now,” said Peoples. “My position is that they are good where there are high interactions between pedestrians and vehicles, such as parking lots. Other means of speed control are more suitable for city streets.”
While benefits are obvious, there are challenges as well with speed bumps, even if they are removable.
Peoples said speed bumps can cause noise from not only the bump, but from vehicles and trailers scraping against them, as well as the deceleration of vehicles before the speed bump and acceleration afterwards.
He said they also present an obstruction for snowplows, can reduce response times for emergency vehicles and can cause excessive wear and tear on vehicles.
Marion said while speed bumps were discussed in the past, she believes there was a reluctance to consider them because of resident dissatisfaction.
“We suspect it is not the residents of Columbus and Waterloo resisting, but residents that have to abide by the speed limits. If it is not financially possible to have a constant presence to stop speeders, we want speed bumps as a deterrent,” said Marion. “There are over 20 children, two residents over 90 and a sightless man living, walking, playing on Columbus between High Street and leaving town going east. It is not just Columbus Street, Waterloo coming into town from Diley Road is worse. We don’t want a tragedy to affect a change that is so obvious.”