The intersection of State Rt. 51 and Millbury Road in Lake Township won't be getting a traffic signal because it doesn't meet state requirements, Ohio Department of Transportation officials told township trustees Tuesday night.
The trustees and about 30 citizens who gathered in the township hall heard from David Dysard, ODOT's District 2 deputy director, and Mike Stormer, his planning engineer. Both expressed sympathy for public concern that the intersection is unsafe, but cited hard numbers that disqualified it as a candidate for a traffic signal.
The intersection was the scene of five crashes in recent years: two in 2005, one in 2006, one in 2008, and one this year through May 26, ODOT's figures showed.
Mr. Dysard noted that three of the five accidents involved impaired drivers. To be considered for a traffic signal, the intersection would need to experience four to five accidents per year over a four-year period, or have five "correctable" crashes in a single year, Mr. Dysard explained.
Questions over the intersection's safety have increased since the death last month of Christine Shaffer, 39, of Millbury. She was killed not in the intersection but west of it when she pulled from a driveway onto Route 51 (also known as Woodville Road) into the path of a westbound sport utility vehicle.
In March, several people were injured in a multivehicle accident at the intersection when a driver ran a stop sign while traveling north on Millbury.
ODOT previously had turned down a request for a signal, and trustees invited transportation officials to attend last night's meeting to explain their reasoning.
Mr. Dysard said an inappropriately located signal could be more unsafe than no signal. Mr. Stormer said the best way to improve safety around the intersection would be to restrict or eliminate access to driveways to and from Route 51 and switch all business entrances to Millbury. This would have to be done on a voluntary basis by the property owners.
Mr. Dysard suggested the township request that ODOT perform a speed study at the intersection. Trustee Melanie Bowen said this would be done.
Mr. Dysard said he would follow through on a recommendation from a citizen that ODOT examine the striping at the intersection to be sure it indicates the area is a no-passing zone.
"We do not take lightly accidents on our highway system," he said. "We would like there to be zero."
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