By Andrea Cordle
Westgate residents are upset over a plan to remove two traffic signals from the area.
The city of Columbus plans to remove the traffic signal at Westgate and Sullivant Avenue and at Southampton and West Broad Street.
“A periodic review determined that these were unwarranted lights,” said Jeffrey Ortega, assistant director of public services for the city of Columbus.
Ortega said the city must abide by the guidelines set forth by the Federal Highway Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation. Those guidelines say there is not enough vehicular and pedestrian traffic at the two intersections to warrant a traffic light.
“The signals do not meet federal regulations,” said Ortega.
Betty Jaynes, president of the Westgate Neighbors Association said residents have been flooding the city with calls about the plan to remove the lights.
“Westgate residents broke 311, said Jaynes. “We wanted to get the city’s attention. Now, they know we are concerned.”
Westgate resident Suzanne Martello said she is especially concerned about the city disabling the traffic signal and crosswalk at Westgate and Sullivant Avenue.
“It is very dangerous and its close proximity to three schools and the Westgate Recreation Center make this especially concerning,” she said.
That intersection is not only near the Westgate Recreation Center, but also Westgate Alternative Elementary School, Saint Mary Magdalene and Bishop Ready.
Jaynes said the removal of the traffic signal at Southampton and West Broad is also very concerning. She said there has been two recent accidents at that location. That intersection is also near a COTA bus stop and a COTA Park and Ride.
“In November, there was a serious accident at the intersection,” said Jaynes. “There is a hill there that blocks the line of sight.”
COTA riders have also complained to the city about this traffic signal, saying they get off the bus after 5 p.m. and have to cross four lanes on West Broad Street.
Ortega said the city’s department of public services will look into options for the the intersection near the COTA bus stop and Park and Ride.
As for the removal of the traffic signals, Ortega said, “the city does not have a lot of choice in the matter.”
The traffic signals do not meet federal guidelines and unless new data is collected, the city will remove the lights.
Jaynes said, “I don’t know what can be done, but I know we have a lot of people upset about it.”
According to Ortega, city officials did reach out to community groups to inform them of the plan to remove the traffic signals. He said they reached out to the Hilltop Area Commission, Friends of the Hilltop, the Hilltop Business Association and the Westgate Neighbors Association.
Jaynes said the city did inform her group of the plan earlier this fall and the neighbors association let the residents know, but many did not react until the lights were taken out of commission.
“The city did do a good job of community outreach, said Jaynes. “The city is listening.”
The lights will flash for 90 days before removal.