By Dedra Cordle
Hibbs Road residents say a collective groan could be heard emanating throughout the neighborhood when the state department of transportation announced that a heavily traveled bridge nearby would be closed for resurfacing repairs.
It was not the inconvenience of having to find an alternative route around the city that had them upset, they explained. Instead, what had them so concerned was the fact that they knew what would be coming down their narrow and sharp residential road.
“We knew we would get a bit more traffic,” said Noreen Hartmann, “but we didn’t think it would be to this extent.”
Under normal circumstances, Hartmann and her husband, Bill, say they are not too bothered by additional traffic on their street.
“I’m fine with the cars,” said Hartmann.
“Just as long as they’re going the speed limit – or below,” Bill added.
Having lived in the area for more than two decades, they said they have grown accustomed to the higher volume of traffic, especially since there has been so much development near their stretch of Jackson Township.
But what they cannot tolerate is semi-trailer trucks traveling down their street – a sight they say was becoming more frequent over the months but has now become commonplace with the bridge closure.
“These tractor trailer trucks are coming down the street four or five at a time,” she said. “They are not allowed here, they should not be here, but they keep coming down here.”
She said there are a number of posted signs that state that no trucks are permitted down these residential roads. However, they are disregarding the signs and using their street as a cut-through to access State Routes 104 and 665.
Hartmann said semi-trucks in residential settings are disruptive and downright dangerous. She added that she has reached out to multiple government entities to fix the problem to no avail.
“Something is going to happen (with all of the trucks using Hibbs Road),” she said, “and I am so frustrated because no one that I’ve talked to wants to say that they’re responsible for the safety on our road.”
On Sept. 13, the Hartmann’s and several of their neighbors attended the Jackson Township board of trustees meeting to urge them to do something to fix the problem.
The trustees said they were unaware that semi-trucks were traveling through Hibbs Road and agreed that measures needed to be taken to ensure that these incidents stop taking place.
“We are glad that this was brought to our attention,” said trustee Ron McClure. “I believe there are some things we can do (to improve the situation) but there are some things that are out of our control.”
The trustees said the first step they can take to address the issue is to ask the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to step up their patrols during peak hours. They added that although enforcement is up to the responding deputy, they will urge them to cite the violators who are caught.
Another step the trustees said they could take is relocate the “no truck” permitted signs so they are more visible on the state routes. According to the residents, they are closer to the residential area and the truck drivers may be seeing them too late.
The board admitted that these measures may not solve the problem immediately, but said they are good first steps toward getting the trucks off of the residential roads.
“We will chip away at this dangerous situation,” said trustee Jim Rauck.
While at the meeting, the residents of Hibbs Road also brought forth another safety issue that is taking place on their street involving speeding motorists.
According to Larry Petitti, motorists zip through their streets, paying little to no attention to the parked cars, the people outside, or the three 90-degree turns that are featured on the roadway.
“They’re coming down so fast they’re almost hitting people,” he said.
He said he would like to see speed bumps installed on the road or have the speed limit lowered to 25 or 30 miles per hour. It is currently set at 40 miles per hour.
According to Administrator Shane Farnsworth, the township has requested that the county engineer’s office conduct a study to determine whether the speed limit should be lowered.
Unfortunately, he said, the process can be lengthy.
“There is no quick fix to that issue, I’m afraid,” he said. “We have to go through a process and see what their determination is.”
He said the only thing they really can do in the meantime is request that the sheriff’s office step up their patrols and enforcement.
“We will have them look at both of these issues and hopefully that can lessen some of the problems they are having on Hibbs Road.”