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Main Street safety for pedestrians and drivers in 2023

Should Bluffton install a traffic light at Main and College? Do you yield to pedestrians?

A January 10 accident on Main St. near College Ave. has village residents talking about long-standing concerns regarding traffic and pedestrian safety at this location. The police report has not yet been released, but preliminary information indicates that a youth was struck by a vehicle and then transported by EMS to Lima Memorial Hospital. It is expected to take several days for a report to be filed by the Bluffton Police Department.

The incident has reheated anxiety that has simmered since the traffic signal at Main St. and College was removed in 2009. Those most affected are the children who attend the schools on one side of Main and use the Bluffton Public Library and school sports facilities on the other side.

Why was the traffic signal removed? A downtown improvement project put Bluffton’s traffic statistics under the scrutiny of the Ohio Department of Transportation. A formula for signal warrants and traffic counts resulted in the removal of the traffic light.

A few years later, I witnessed a neighbor get stranded on the yellow line on the Main St and College crosswalk–with cars passing her by mere inches in both directions. I began talking to all of the entities involved with public safety at this location: the schools, the village administrator, the Bluffton police chief and ODOT representatives. After two years of campaigning with other Bluffton residents, first signs and then flashing beacons were installed in 2015 and 2016. Some people would argue that this isn’t much of an improvement.

A 2016 Lima News article “Bluffton Crosswalk in the Crossfire” does a good job of condensing the history of the intersection. The article concludes with a statement from the former Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 supervisor Kurt Slusser that ODOT does not have jurisdiction in this situation; he emphasized that the village is in charge of making improvements.

Have attitudes, policies and conditions changed since 2016? Staffing has changed at the village and at ODOT District 1. Just this past week, the village council passed a new Complete Streets policy that will provide new opportunities for residents to submit their observations and concerns.

I have noticed that not many drivers in Bluffton yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. When they were young, I taught my children to make eye contact with drivers to determine whether they were going to stop. With more dark tinted windows on cars, it is now sometimes impossible to see the driver at all.

Want to do something today to make Bluffton children and adults safer? Be on the lookout for pedestrians and yield to individuals who are trying to cross the road.


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