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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

4 lanes on Sylvania too wide for some

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Some Sylvania Township residents last week gave Lucas County commissioners an earful about the latest plans to widen a busy portion of Sylvania Avenue from two lanes to four.

During an Aug. 7 public hearing, about two dozen residents told the county board they had no interest in a plan to help traffic flow through their neighborhoods with more ease.

"If we widen [Sylvania Avenue], we'll fill it up," local resident Ellen Adler said.

"This stretch that you refer to as an improvement, I see as an obscenity."

The latest proposal for the project would widen the roadway from its two-lane configuration with bike lanes on each side into a roadway with four lanes of traffic with bike lanes.

The two through lanes would transition to one lane just west of the Holland-Sylvania intersection.

Left turn lanes would be created from Sherwood Forest Manor Road through the Lancelot/Oak Park intersection. County officials said the latest plan limits the amount of land that would be required from residents' yards while making an accident-ridden intersection safer.

But local residents said that expanding the roadway by doubling its existing lanes of traffic would mean more traffic and less safety for that part of the township. They asked for a single left-turn lane as a way of increasing motorist safety.

"We need something out there; there's no question we need help. But we need a center turn lane desperately," Lancelot Drive resident Donna Pollex said.

"It's not just the dozen or so homes on Sylvania Avenue that are affected. We're affected, too, and there are 200 or 300 homes north and south of [that section of Sylvania]," said Lon Stober, who lives in a condominium development on the south side of the avenue.

Mr. Stober presented commissioners several hundred letters from residents urging county officials to reconsider the plan.

County engineer Keith Earley said a traffic study of the area near the Sylvania/Holland-Sylvania intersection estimated about 23,000 vehicles per day traverse that section of Sylvania Avenue. It also found more than 180 collisions that had taken place at or near the intersection within a three-year period.

"It's consistently been one of our top crash locations involving nonstate roads every year," Mr. Earley said.

Efforts to widen the stretch of Sylvania between Holland-Sylvania and McCord roads were first considered in the 1970s. Mr. Earley said traffic on that stretch of roadway is expected to increase by another 25 percent from current levels by 2028, and that an increase in the number of lanes is needed to avoid dangerous bottlenecks.

In the last several years, Sylvania has been widened between McCord Road and Eaglehurst Road to provide left-turn lanes along with a center left-turn lane.

Another portion was altered to align Stonehenge Drive with the driveway for the Jewish Community Center, and a traffic signal was installed there.

Sylvania Township Police Officer David Shinaver, a resident of the affected area, said improvements are necessary but must be done wisely.

"The [Sylvania/Holland-Sylvania] intersection needs to be widened and needs to be marked better," Officer Shinaver said. The county's four-lane plan "may look good on paper, but I can tell you from experience that four lanes don't work."

County commissioners said they would consider the comments before making a decision.

"This is a smart-growth issue underlying all of this," Commissioner Ben Konop said. "We're taking that into consideration."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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