A crash-prone, two-mile stretch of roadway on Cleveland’s west side could be overhauled in the coming years in an effort to make it safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Elements of the proposed traffic calming plan for Franklin Blvd. will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday, much to the delight of neighbors who have had concerns and aired complaints about the road for years.
According to data provided by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, there were more than 160 traffic accidents on Franklin Boulevard between W. 25th and W. 85th Streets from 2012 to 2016. Nearly a third of the accidents happened between W. 48th and W. 55th Streets.
April Keene, who has lived in Ohio City for nearly a decade, knows the dangers all too well.
“I woke up in the morning (Monday) to go to work and someone had hit my bumper and caused pretty much $1,000 in damage,” Keene said. “There was no note, nothing, so it was kind of disappointing.”
NOACA is nearing the final stages of a study that will examine and identify possible traffic calming solutions that could be brought to the corridor, which serves as a bypass for people commuting between some of the bustling commercial districts, like Gordon Square. The speed limit on the two mile stretch is 35 mph. However, that limit is frequently exceeded, neighbors said.
“If it is over one mile in length, the Ohio Revised Code says it must be signalized at 35 mph. This roadway is 2.2 miles,” said Councilman Matt Zone. “What we’re hoping to do is make the case and present it to the state, which will allow us to lower the speed limit but also create simple design features that will slow traffic down.”
Some of those design features could include curb bump outs, additional signage, raised crosswalks and other roadway changes that will give drivers no other choice but to slow down. By installing these devices, the speed limit could be reduced to 20 mph, city officials said. Some of the possible changes will be detailed at a public meeting Tuesday evening.
Keene is in favor of anything that will help make her neighborhood safer.
“It’s pretty busy. I think on some of the other side streets, people kind of fly down them,” Keene said. “It would be nice to have Franklin [changed]… and be a little bit less speed limit wise. Maybe 25 mph.”
These traffic calming devices are popular in Europe and have proven successful across the country. The Federal Highway Administration’s website contains links to numerous academic studies and case studies that have shown these devices have caused significant decline in traffic crashes.
“Not just in Cleveland but across the country, we would design roads that encourage speeding,” Zone said. “Now, city planners and municipal leaders across America are really rethinking how we design our roads. We need to design roads that make it safe for all users — not just vehicles.”
Once complete, the study could also be used to make a case when funding for the project is sought. Zone hopes to have construction begin in 2019 or 2020. A projected cost is not known while details are still being finalized.
“Cities that adopt smart principals around traffic really can save lives, and that’s what we’re attempting to do here with this effort,” Zone said. “We have to make sure that they are safe… whether you’re on a bike, pushing a stroller, walking or driving in car.”