transportation

BG school bus cameras catch people passing illegally

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School buses in Bowling Green are now equipped with their own type of red-light cameras. So far this school year, at least 19 vehicles have illegally passed Bowling Green City School buses stopped for picking up or dropping off children. So the district is investing in cameras mounted on the bus exteriors to catch drivers illegally passing stopped buses. Wednesday morning, Bowling Green City Schools Transportation Director Toby Snow stood outside Kenwood Elementary as the buses conducted annual emergency evacuation drills during National Bus Safety Week. But Snow is aware that one of the biggest threats comes from other vehicles sharing the road with school buses. About three years ago, the district put external cameras on three buses that were experiencing the most problems with red light runners. But then the number of vehicles running past stopped buses jumped this year, Snow said. He reported 18 to the school board earlier this month. That number has since grown to 19. “I just decided it’s a good thing to see from all of them,” Snow said of buying additional cameras. So far, 11 buses are equipped with the cameras – which cost about $750 each. Seven more cameras are on order. The district has a total of 20 school buses that carry about 1,300 students to and from school each day. The law requires drivers to stop for school buses when the red lights are on and the stop sign is extended on the side of the bus. Vehicles are required to stop at least 10 feet away from the bus. The bus drivers put yellow lights on first to warn drivers that a bus stop is approaching. If the bus is on a four-lane road, just the vehicles headed the same direction as the bus are required to stop. Bus drivers are asked to identify the vehicle, license plate and give a description of the driver for vehicles passing them illegally. But that is asking too much for drivers who are also watching a busload of children, Snow said. “It’s almost impossible,” he said. So the cameras help do the job. They are mounted at an angle so they catch license plates of passing vehicles. “We’ve had them catching them as fast as 50 mph,” Snow said. And they are able to capture license plates in daylight or darkness. “The driver can now concentrate on the children,” he said. Bowling Green is not alone having problems with drivers not stopping for buses. “It’s a nationwide issue.” Earlier this year, an 8-year-old in Missouri was killed by a truck as she was crossing the road to get on her school bus. “The safety of our kids, especially during drop-off and pick-up is important,” said Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci. The number of violations so far this year is troubling, Scruci said. “It’s distressing. Fortunately, we haven’t had a tragedy.” The bus cameras will help, Scruci said. “It’s just an added resource to keep kids safe,” he said. “When a car or truck passes, we can at least report that to police.” Scruci has heard the common complaints from motorists annoyed by the delay of bus stops. “It’s the state law and you need to abide by it,” he said. “Just stop. It’s not…

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Four pedestrian crosswalks being added to East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU students crossing East Wooster Street will have to worry less about dodging traffic – and motorists will have to be on their toes to not miss the four new crosswalks being added to the street. Four pedestrian crosswalks are being installed on East Wooster Street – one by the Stroh Center, and three between the traffic lights at Manville and South College avenues. A pedestrian safety study was conducted in the fall of 2015 around the Bowling Green State University campus, to identify locations that may need marked crosswalks. “They took all likely crossing points,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “Our goal is to ensure everybody can cross the road.” The four crosswalks, costing a combined total of $489,191, are being paid for entirely by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Though there will be three crosswalks in a very short distance between the existing crosswalks at Manville and South College streets, Fawcett said the study did not foresee any resulting traffic congestion on East Wooster Street. “They incorporated the traffic counts in their studies,” he said. The construction going on now on East Wooster is the underground infrastructure needed, plus markings and signage. Plans call for the signals to be installed early next year. There are two different types of crosswalks being installed. Both types are new to Bowling Green. Two will be more traditional crosswalks with “refuge islands” in the middle of the street. The other two will be pedestrian hybrid beacons. The two pedestrian islands, which will have 6-inch high curbs, will be located in the middle of East Wooster Street – one near Founders residence hall (just east of Manville Avenue) and the other just west of the Falcon Health Center. They will be installed this year. The refuge islands in the middle will allow pedestrians to only worry about traffic from one direction at a time. “The goal for the island is to give a person an opportunity to maximize their safety,” Fawcett said. The two pedestrian hybrid beacons will be installed at the Stroh Center and across from McFall Center (just east of Troup Street.) The beacons, which remain passive unless a pedestrian wishes to cross, are activated by a push button. Once pushed, the yellow lights start flashing, followed by red lights to stop traffic. The lights remain red for the amount of time expected for pedestrians to cross the street. Once the lights are no longer red, traffic may resume. The pedestrian hybrid beacons will be completed in early 2018. Motorists who drive through the crossings while the red lights are shining can be cited for violating a traffic control device, similar to a stoplight violation. “It’s a very good example of a collaborative effort between BGSU, the city and ODOT, working on a common goal,” Fawcett said. “We’re pretty fortunate that ODOT is picking up the cost of these.”


County gives BG $300,000 for roundabouts at I-75

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners have kicked in $300,000 for roundabouts being planned at the Interstate 75 interchange in Bowling Green. The commissioners presented the check Thursday morning to Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. “I know these decisions aren’t easy to come by, with all the competing demands” for funding, Edwards said to the commissioners. But Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the impact of the interchange improvements will reach beyond Bowling Green. “It’s important for all of us,” she said. The roundabouts planned for the interchange on East Wooster Street are intended to make traffic move more smoothly and reduce accidents. Work on the necessary infrastructure for the project will begin in 2018, according to Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. The actual road paving work is planned for 2019, she said. “It’s got a lot of moving parts,” Tretter said of the project. Edwards thanked the commissioners for their “spirit of collaboration.” “We appreciate you recognizing the import of this,” he said, referring to Bowling Green as the capital of Wood County. “We do have this very important corridor coming in off 75. This will make a huge difference.” The improvements are even more needed with the expansion of the Wood Bridge industrial park off Dunbridge Road, the mayor said. “We do work together really well in Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “We actually communicate and talk about our issues, and solve our issues.” Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the local share is due to the Ohio Department of Transportation in the spring. The current projected total local share for the road work and utility work is $5,150,000; $3,450,000 for the road work and $1,700,000 for the utility work. The overall cost for the project is $7,700,000. ODOT is contributing $2,250,000 and the county has contributed $300,000. A bond will be sold to finance this project and will be paid back over a 20-year period.  The timing of the county’s contribution is important, Fawcett said, because the process for selling this bond will begin within the next month or so – starting with accounting for how much money is needed, developing the bond retirement schedule, and the necessary city legislation to do all of this. More roundabouts are proposed for East Wooster Street at the intersections at Dunbridge Road and at Campbell Hill Road. The city is still waiting for word on grant funding for those projects.


Roundabout eyed for Campbell Hill – Napoleon Road

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Wooster Street in Bowling Green may not be the only route in the area steering for roundabouts. Wood County Engineer John Musteric has asked for a safety study to be conducted at the intersection of Napoleon Road and Campbell Hill Road – just on the east side of Bowling Green. The Wood County Commissioners agreed to the study, which will be conducted by Poggemeyer Design Group. According to Musteric, the Campbell Hill-Napoleon intersection was identified on a list compiled by the Ohio County Engineers Association as one of the worst intersections in the region for accidents. Other Wood County intersections have made the list in the past, including Hull Prairie and Roachton, which now has a roundabout, and several on Oregon Road between Ohio 795 and the city of Northwood. A roundabout is currently being considered for the intersection of First Street and Oregon Road, Musteric said. In the city of Bowling Green, roundabouts are planned at East Wooster’s intersections with Interstate 75, Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Now it appears there may be one more roundabout, just on the outer edge of the city. During the past three years, Musteric said the Campbell Hill-Napoleon crossing has been the site of about 45 accidents. Most have involved property damage and none have been fatal crashes, he said. “There have been a lot of accidents there,” he said. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of visibility, and the county has added signage. But that doesn’t seem to have helped. “People are stopping at Campbell Hill and then they pull out thinking the Napoleon traffic will stop,” Musteric said. So a traffic study will be conducted, in hopes of the county getting some funding for a possible roundabout. A four-way stop could be placed at the intersection, but then there will be more rear-end collisions, he said. “The state is more than willing to give money away for safety,” Musteric said. “These roundabouts reduce accidents by 76 percent.” The traffic study will likely be completed by the end of this year. “We definitely want it done while school is open,” he said. The results will be used to help the county pay for improvements. “We can use that to apply for grant money,” Musteric said. However, the county engineer said some type of agreement will likely be needed between the county and the city before the work is done. “If the county puts $1 million in this, we don’t want that area annexed into the city without getting some of our money back,” he said.  


Citizens sound off on East Wooster corridor plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Citizens got to heap compliments and complaints earlier this week on Bowling Green’s plans to recreate its image from the interstate. Giant drawings showed plans for roundabouts at I-75 and East Wooster Street, a walk- and bike-path along Wooster, and a new decorative look to the bridge over the interstate. “It’s beautiful. I think it’s going to organize traffic in and out of the city,” and prevent accidents in the process, said Brandon Welsh, operations manager at Best Western on East Wooster Street. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. ”I’m very excited about the new pedestrian improvements,” said Chris Frey, who lives close to downtown but said he would use the bikeway along East Wooster to the Meijer store. “I’m looking forward to it. I’d be very happy to ride my bicycle to the store.” The more accommodations the city can make for bicyclists and pedestrians, the better, Frey said. “We don’t have a culture of stopping for pedestrians.” But that may come, he added. Dawn McCaghy also liked the addition of 10-foot wide bike and pedestrian lane over I-75 that will be made possible by one of the westbound vehicle lanes being eliminated. “I like the pedestrian and bicycle pathway,” she said. “We see students walking on the roadway all the time.” As far as the roundabouts, McCaghy admitted a little apprehension. “I guess I’m sort of neutral, but I know I’ll have some trouble at first.” Her husband, Charles McCaghy, noted that roundabouts work successful in so many other places. “Once people get used to them, they’ll say, ‘How did we every get on without them?’” he said. “We’re not exactly breaking ground.” One woman expressed concern that the roundabouts will be difficult to navigate, and asked if they will be smallish like the rotary in front of Terra Tech in Fremont. Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft said that the roundabout in front of Terra Tech is “too small,” and the Bowling Green ones will be much larger. “They are designed for truck traffic,” he said. Dale Calcamuggio, transportation administrator with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said he expects motorists to quickly adapt to the roundabouts. “I think so, absolutely,” he said. He mentioned the roundabout near Anthony Wayne, at the corner of Ohio 64 and Fintel. “It took a bit of time, but people get used to it.” The plans also call for the eastbound and westbound lanes on Wooster Street to be divided, with traffic needed to use the roundabouts to change directions to enter or exit businesses. Welsh expressed some concerns that the change may inconvenience drivers. But Calcamuggio said it will be safer than trying to cross multiple lanes of traffic. “That’s quite a bit safer than trying to get through all that traffic. Sometimes you can sit…


More crosswalks, roundabouts planned for East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council fast-tracked some changes Monday evening for East Wooster Street. Council suspended the three-readings rule and passed legislation to seek funds for two additional roundabouts, and proceed with installation of four marked crosswalks between Manville Avenue and Campbell Hill Road. The city is already working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on roundabouts at the Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The resolutions before council on Monday involved the roundabouts at the intersections of East Wooster at Campbell Hill and Dunbridge roads. The four crosswalks are planned at areas where pedestrians are more likely to use when dodging traffic on East Wooster Street. According to Public Works Director Brian Craft, two different types of crosswalks are proposed. Pedestrian hybrid beacons are planned by the Stroh Center and by the BGSU McFall building. These crosswalks will have buttons for pedestrians to push, which will turn flashing yellow lights to solid red lights for vehicle traffic. Passive crossings are planned in the areas of Troup Street and at the driveway to the Falcon Health Center. These crossings will have islands in the middle of the street for pedestrians, Craft said. In addition to creating less air pollution, city officials are interested in the roundabouts because the East Wooster Street Concept Plan identified these locations for intersection improvements, including a “new look” for the corridor. The plan calls for a calmer and more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the city with a landscaped median as part of that concept. Since the East Wooster corridor is the “front door” to the community, the plan suggested increasing trees, calming traffic and adding improvements for pedestrians. If approved, ODOT would pay 80 percent of the roundabout costs, with Bowling Green paying the remaining 20 percent. That means for the Campbell Hill rotary, estimated to cost $1,525,000, Bowling Green would pay $310,000 plus $153,000 for project preparation. For the Dunbridge Road rotary, estimated to cost $935,000, Bowling Green’s share would be $190,000, plus $95,000 for project preparation. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards talked about the positive reactions since the city’s announcement last week that it would donate land on South Grove Street to the Wood County Committee on Aging for a new senior center. The property on South Grove was formerly the site of the Central Administration Building for Bowling Green City Schools. To provide enough space for the senior center and needed parking, an ordinance was introduced Monday setting up the exchange of city land with First Presbyterian Church. The ordinance calls for a trade so the church would get the “dog leg” of land directly behind the church, and the city would get the park area directly to the south of the property for the senior center. Edwards said questions have been raised about whether or not the current senior center site might be a logical place for a new municipal building. “My answer is a pretty straight forward ‘yes,’” the mayor said. Edwards estimated it would take two or three years for the new senior center to be ready – which will give the city time for its building plans. “We’re all eager to see the process move along,” he said. In other business Monday evening: Council heard the first reading…


BG to consider 2 more roundabouts on East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials may soon seek another go-round at more roundabout funding. On Monday, Bowling Green City Council will hear the first readings of resolutions for two more roundabouts on East Wooster Street. The city is already working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on roundabouts at the Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The resolutions before council on Monday involve the intersections of East Wooster at Campbell Hill and Dunbridge roads. If approved, ODOT would pay 80 percent of the roundabout costs, with Bowling Green paying the remaining 20 percent. That means for the Campbell Hill rotary, estimated to cost $1,525,000, Bowling Green would pay $310,000 plus $153,000 for project preparation. For the Dunbridge Road rotary, estimated to cost $935,000, Bowling Green’s share would be $190,000, plus $95,000 for project preparation. Bowling Green is already working with ODOT to put two roundabouts at I-75 and East Wooster Street in 2018. The work will include pedestrian access along the bridge deck and aesthetic improvements for those entering the community. The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments is seeking transportation projects that might qualify for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. Roundabouts often qualify since they allow traffic to continue moving at a steady pace unlike regular intersections that require motorists to stop and go. In addition to creating less air pollution, city officials are interested in the roundabouts because the East Wooster Street Concept Plan identified these locations for intersection improvements, including a “new look” for the corridor. The plan calls for a calmer and more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the city with a landscaped median as part of that concept. Since the East Wooster corridor is the “front door” to the community, the plan suggested increasing trees, calming traffic and adding improvements for pedestrians. Another benefit, according to city officials, is that fewer left hand turns into and out of businesses will be required because of the roundabouts. That is expected to decrease the number of serious vehicle crashes in the corridor. The funding decisions will not be made until December. If Bowling Green is awarded funds, the money may not be available until 2022 or later. Applications for the funds are due June 2, so City Council will be asked to give the resolutions their first readings on Monday, then their second and third readings on May 15. Surveys submitted last year by Bowling Green residents, about the proposed East Wooster corridor work, showed a great deal of suspicion about the roundabouts. But city officials believe that once citizens realize the safety benefits, and experience the ease maneuvering around them, that most motorists will be sold. Though roundabouts are common intersection features in many parts of the nation, Wood County has been slow warming up to the idea. Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft, who has done his research on the circular intersections, believes the roundabouts would be good for the city for a variety of reasons. First, they are safer. “They are designed to intentionally make you slow down,” Craft said last year. Head-on and high-speed right angle collisions are virtually eliminated with roundabouts. Second, they can save money by not requiring stop signal installation and maintenance. And third, they can help the city meet its…