BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – A quick curb can now be found at one of the area’s busiest intersections: Route 224 and South Avenue in Boardman.
Ohio Department of Transportation officials say it’s a safety feature, but leaders in Boardman say it could get in the way when emergency vehicles navigate the intersection.
As the repaving of Route 224 is finishing up through Boardman, a surprise greeted drivers at the intersection with South Ave.
ODOT calls them quick barriers, and they’re designed to keep drivers from making left turns too close to a busy intersection.
Township leaders are concerned with the addition.
“There is some safety upgrades that come with the new barriers, but there’s also some response problems that are created,” said Jason Loree, township administrator.
The quick barriers are new to the Valley, and Loree is worried that safety personnel won’t know how to drive around or over them.
“The township had concerns. When our safety vehicles have to travel down 224, oftentimes we use the center median to navigate because it’s very busy,” Loree said.
ODOT says their barriers are meant to be driven across by safety vehicles.
“We don’t want to stop fire and EMS, obviously, from getting there. We just want to prevent motorists from making those left-hand turns and potentially putting themselves in a bad situation,” said Ray Marsch, ODOT spokesperson.
The barriers do pose another problem: Getting into businesses near the intersection.
Marsch says he isn’t sure that U-turns would be encouraged, and a left turn needs to be made.
“You’re not going to be able to access that. You’re not going to be able to make that left turn, so what you’re going to need to do is to go to that next signal. You’re going to have to make that left turn,” Marsch said.
But that would make drivers turn left onto South Avenue now causing a point of conflict with other drivers on South Avenue rather than 224.
Loree says further improvements are being planned, including ones that allow U-turns.
“There’s talks right now for a larger, upgraded version of different measures that may include cement medians in the road to prevent any cross-traffic,” Loree said.
Marsch says the ultimate goal of quick barriers is to reduce accidents and save lives.
“If these quick curbs can reduce just one crash,” Marsch said, “if it can save one life, it’s worth it.”