By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Motorists who find their gas pedal getting a little heavy on the far east and west ends of Poe Road may not have to worry as much about speeding tickets there in the future.
Bowling Green City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance changing the speed limits from 35 to 45 mph on West Poe Road from Lafayette Boulevard to the city limits, and on East Poe Road from North College Avenue to Mercer Road.
The change was suggested by the city traffic commission. Before any speed limits can be modified, traffic studies must be conducted, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett explained after Monday’s meeting.
The studies on both ends of Poe Road were based on ODOT guidelines of looking for the 85th percentile speed of traffic – which is the basic factor in setting speed limits. This is the speed that 85 percent of the drivers were at or below based upon the study, and has been determined by ODOT to be the speed at which the “average” driver feels comfortable driving in that area.
The speed studies also consider factors such as the number of driveways, number of crashes and traffic volume. The data collected showed that a speed limit increase was warranted in both sections of Poe Road.
Police Chief Tony Hetrick said bumping up the speed limits makes sense.
“It seems logical, it’s a reasonable speed to be traveling,” Hetrick said after the meeting.
Few speeding tickets are handed out in those sections of Poe Road, though they were previously pretty common in front of the Wood County Airport.
“Poe Road used to be a pretty easy mark for speeders,” the chief said.
The speed limit ordinance will get two more readings by City Council before being voted upon.
In other business, council member Bruce Jeffers addressed those present about gun violence in schools.
“I’m well aware it’s not in our purview,” Jeffers said. He praised local efforts to discuss school safety, and said he contacted State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, to ask them to work with Gov. John Kasich on gun issues.
Council member Daniel Gordon mentioned the past efforts made by Jeffers on the gun violence issue.
“I find it sad that we are still talking about it,” Gordon said. “We are making sure our kids don’t have to be afraid of going to school.”
Council member Greg Robinette said he was impressed with last week’s public forum on school violence, featuring Superintendent Francis Scruci, the school board, Police Chief Tony Hetrick and Fire Chief Bill Moorman.
“As a parent, I’m comfortable with the way our community is handling this issue,” Robinette said.
Council President Mike Aspacher also congratulated Scruci and the overall community.
“I could not help but be impressed with how we as a community came together” and discussed the matter calmly, Aspacher said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, council talked about the recent presentation on the Community Action Plan.
“I’ve been watching this process and trying to help in certain ways since 2016,” Mayor Dick Edwards said. “It’s been pleasing to see how this evolved.”
“It’s a very good roadmap into the future,” Edwards said, adding that it will be difficult to digest the entire plan.
The mayor echoed last week’s comments by Aspacher, who suggested that council reach for the “low hanging fruit” in the plan first.
Jeffers said he was pleased with the plan, predicting it will “lay the groundwork for investors” who will be more likely to put money into a community with a plan. The proposal should also encourage citizens to maintain their own properties, and perhaps shift some rentals back into single-family homes.
Robinette suggested that each council member go through the CAP and select priorities – cautioning that while the plan primarily addresses the East Side, council members must remember they represent the entire city.
Robinette also noted an ongoing theme in the CAP of improving the city’s zoning, which is currently a “patchwork of amendments made over decades.”
Aspacher agreed with Robinette, and urged council members to identify their priorities in the plan.
In other business, Edwards praised the charter review process that is underway with a commission of community members. “I’m very optimistic that the process moves along and not be impeded in any way.”
Council member Bill Herald announced the next food truck meeting will be March 12, at 4 p.m., in the council chambers. “The key is balance, to be methodical and thorough,” Herald said. Public input will be welcome at the meeting.
Also at the meeting, Utilities Director Brian O’Connell reported to council on his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to talk with legislators about issues impacting public utilities.