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State wants partial ban on left turns at Central, Wilford

The Ohio Department of Transportation has recommended banning left turns for 12 hours during weekdays - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - at Central Avenue and Wilford Drive.

Sylvania Township trustees are scheduled to discuss the issue at a 7 p.m. meeting on Aug. 16. The discussion about the intersection will cover the proposed 12-hour ban, making the ban shorter, putting a traffic light up at the intersection, or whether to cul-de sac the end of Wilford Drive to block it from traffic entirely.

Trustees are not expected to take any action during the meeting and are planning to open up a comment period for two weeks after the meeting.

“I would prefer a cul de sac,” said Shawn Drouillard, who has lived on Wilford Drive for 11 years. “We still have tons of cut through traffic that has not been addressed.”

If a light was put up and traffic is backed up on McCord, people will cut through [subdivision] Carrietowne, go down Wilford, and turn right, hoping for a bypass, Mrs. Drouillard said. Motorists ignore traffic signs now, she said

BP Amoco officials, who have a store at the intersection, have offered to help pay for the installation of a traffic light. Gas station officials don't believe restricting left turns addresses the entire problem, said Nick Panagopoulos II, an attorney, representing BP.

“Obviously, there's a safety issue at the intersection,” Mr. Panagopoulos said.

“The intersection is a complete failure.” A traffic study in November 2000 graded the intersection with an F, he said. “The breakdown is the acceleration lane, which seems to have been constructed without basic design criteria.”

During road work last year at the intersection, which is west of I-475/U.S. 23, crews added an extended right turn lane on eastbound Central Avenue. The turn lane allows motorists to bypass traffic waiting at the light to continue eastbound for the expressway.

There are problems when people going westbound on Central try to turn left on Wilford. The motorists have difficulty with the eastbound turn lane. Township police have reported 34 accidents from October 2000 to the end of July.

“Most of them have been people making left turns from westbound Central to southbound Wilford,” Sylvania Township police chief Wayne Seely said. “The other is people northbound on Wilford going left on Central or westbound. Those are the two most prevalent,” he said. “There were no adverse weather conditions. I would a prefer light, but they [ODOT] have to follow a national standard.”

Township officials, a county engineer, and township police discussed a central median, caution lights, right turns only on Central from Wilford during a meeting in July, but decided the left turn ban was the first and easiest option, according to Jim Maxwell, township administrator. It's not a popular idea.

“Putting up a sign will not stop people from turning left,” said Mr. Panagopoulos, the attorney. “A light is more of a far-range and long-term solution. They will pay more attention to a light.”

Trustee Dock Treece does not favor banning the left turns for 12 hours or closing the street, but he does favor an idea to putting in a timed light. “I don't like closing streets, but it may be the best option in this case,” he said.

ODOT officials have told Mr. Treece that a traffic light is not feasible because it would be too close in proximity to the light at the Central and I-475 intersection.

If the left turns are banned, it should be from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and in the afternoon from 4-6, Mr. Treece said. “You got weigh all of these things,” he said. “Would a light make traffic on Wilford more unbearable? I'm not going in with preconceived notions.”

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