By Rick Palsgrove
Get ready to slow down a bit.
Groveport Madison Schools officials asked for and received a 20 mph school zone on South Hamilton Road near Groveport Madison High School after Groveport City Council approved legislation enacting it.
The school zone will be in effect during restricted hours on South Hamilton Road within the area where the Groveport Madison High School property line boundaries intersect the road and extending 300 feet in each approach direction.
Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst said school zone flashing signs are being installed on South Hamilton Road to establish a school zone speed limit of 20 mph during restricted hours. The school zone signs are part of the intersection and traffic signal improvement project at South Hamilton Road and Firehouse Lane.
Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Garilee Ogden said the restricted hours when the 20 mph school zone is in effect are when the signs’ lights are flashing during times when the high school opens in the morning and when it closes in the afternoon. Classes start at the high school at 7:30 a.m. and the school day ends at 2:10 p.m.
Farst said the plan is to have the school zone lights flashing 30 minutes prior to school starting and 30 minutes after school lets out, per the state standard.
When asked if it is unusual to have a 20 mph school zone on a divided four lane highway, Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier said he has seen other places around the state where this has been done.
The new school zone could impact traffic flow during the times it is in effect, but Portier said the school zone is important because, “It’s safety over convenience.”
Portier said he anticipates there may be some traffic jams during rush hour on South Hamilton Road during the restricted hours.
“We hope the public anticipates this, too, and leaves for work a little earlier to avoid problems. Also, until people get used to the speed limit change, we might see some accidents, but we hope we do not see any.”
Resident Bob Williams told council at its July 15 meeting that he sees “no reason for having a 20 mph school zone” on South Hamilton Road.
“I think it’s going to back traffic up on South Hamilton Road in both directions,” said Williams.
Williams said it is a safety issue because vehicles traveling 50 mph will have to quickly drop to 20 mph, which he said could cause accidents.
Williams also noted that, in his experience, he has never seen students walking along South Hamilton Road.
Councilwoman Becky Hutson said there are students walking along the road, particularly from the COTA bus stop by the high school.
Added Councilman Scott Lockett of the 20 mph school zone, “I think it’s a good idea. It slows things down.”
No right turn on red reconsidered
Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall suggested council eliminate the “no right turn on red” for westbound traffic on Main Street at Front Street.
However, she said the “no right turn on red” on Front Street at Main Street should remain.
Hall said the “no right turn on red” on westbound Main Street at Front Street causes traffic back-ups during rush hours.
“It clogs the area,” said Hall.
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said the “no right turn on red” at the site was originally instituted to protect pedestrians, particularly students walking to Groveport Elementary.
This intersection was upgraded in recent years with electronic crosswalk signage as well as bolder paint on the crosswalk in the street.
City officials will review Hall’s suggestion and study the flow of and amount of pedestrian traffic in the area and report back to council.
The city has no plans to remove the “no right turn on red” restriction at Main and College streets because of that intersection’s poor sight lines and tight turns onto the narrow College Street.
On another crosswalk note, city officials are studying whether or not to place an additional crosswalk on Main Street somewhere near Groveport Elementary and Groveport Madison Middle School Central.
Resident Bob Williams asked council to consider re-designing the city’s street signs as well as the entry signs at the city limits.
“The street signs look dreadful. Let’s dress them up and add a little class to the city,” said Williams. “Also, the signs to the entrances of the city don’t stand out.”
Currently, the city’s street signs feature black lettering on a white sign. The city’s alley signs have white lettering on a black sign. The signs at the entrances to the city include a brick sign at Main Street and State Route 317, metal arches at other entry points, and small white signs with black lettering at some entry points.
The city’s trees and decorations committee will review Williams’ suggestions.