WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – With its population shrinking, does Warren still need all of its traffic lights and stop signs? There’s a plan in place to remove 21 traffic lights and turn 63 four-way stops into two-ways.
But before they OK it, Warren City Council wanted to hear from the people who live in those neighborhoods, some of which don’t want these changes made.
Warren applied for and received a $1.6 million grant. With the money, they’re expected to remove traffic lights at intersections and turn many four-way stops into two-ways.
“I think when a number of these changes are implemented, the traveling public as a whole will appreciate the change. I think they’ll see the improvements,” said Paul Makosky, director of engineering.
Nearly 30 residents attended the meeting Thursday night. Most against the removal of lights or stop signs in their neighborhoods. Their biggest concern being speeding and safety.
“People speed down the street 50-60 miles an hour up the alleys like a speedway,” one resident said.
“My concern is the ability to move freely and safely in and out of our neighborhood because we’re essentially blocked there,” said another resident, Ruth Mason.
Engineers on the project argue that stoplights and signs don’t and shouldn’t control speed. It’s the volume of traffic in these areas that’s the bigger factor and the number of cars isn’t enough to keep the lights and signs.
“There’s been no data that suggest that you’re gonna increase speed or reduce safety when you remove a stop sign or an unwarranted signals, oftentimes, unwarranted stop signs and signals are ignored by residents,” Makosky said.
One person is in favor and said Warren’s traffic system is out of date.
“I have spent countless minutes adding to countless hours and gasoline sitting at stoplights that there’s nobody there,” they said.
The city can, however, put flashing stop signs in certain areas where they’re removing stoplights. They can collect data and revisit maybe keeping that stoplight over the course of the year, but 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Greathouse says getting rid of the lights is also about being compliant with state standards.
“If we choose not to go along with this and then somebody gets hurt at a non-compliant intersection, then the city is on the hook,” Greathouse said.
With so many concerns about speeding, there was talk of holding another meeting about how they can slow cars down, but they said it won’t be with stop signs and stoplights.
Council will vote on the grant — it could be as early as three weeks or as late as next summer. If accepted, the work would have to start by July 2022.