YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the Midlothian Boulevard project is underway, many Youngstown residents have taken to social media to voice their concerns.
“I know the safety as far as residents passing by and being on motorized vehicles that this wasn’t a good idea to basically take away the safety barrier,” said Joseph Napier, a local resident.
The project includes changing Midlothian Boulevard — between Glenwood Avenue and Interstate 680 — from four lanes down to two lanes plus a middle turning lane. It has been proposed to turn the two outer lanes into bike lanes. This came after ODOT conducted a safety study.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis said the decision to do the project came from the state, and not the city since Midlothian Boulevard is under the control of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“Because don’t forget, it’s not just Youngstown that’s affected by it, it’s Boardman as well. Midlothian is straight down the middle,” Davis said. “I think residents of both cities should be very concerned about that.”
Part of the project included removing two traffic lights: one at the intersection of Hillman and Midlothian and the other at the intersection of Midlothian and Zedaker. This was determined after another study was done to assess the need for the traffic lights.
Still, many people have voiced concerns over the removal of the lights, stating that it is unsafe.
“I even talked with the gentleman who lives on the corner right here. He used to have a fence in his front yard that get hit like every year, and he had to take it away,” Napier said.
As of June 7, there have been two accidents reported at the Midlothian and Hillman intersection within the past month. There have been five reported along Midlothian Boulevard.
Woolpert — the company that conducted the traffic signal warrant study — stated in the report that they evaluated crash data from 2019 to 2021. It states that a total of 47 crashes occurred at both the Hillman Street and Zedaker Avenue intersections during that time.
“There was one fatal crash in 2022, approximately 1,000 feet east of the Zedaker Avenue intersection, and unrelated to either study intersection. There were no pedestrian or bicycle-related crashes during the data collection period,” the study states.
Davis said prior to the work being done, she held a community input meeting for residents to voice their concerns. She says most residents were not happy about it.
Although the road is maintained by ODOT, the city is financially responsible for 20% of that project.
“One of the things about being a township versus a city, when the state does a project, the city has to pay its share. Somewhere between 20 and 25 percent. But when they’re doing paving and so forth in the township, the townships pay zero,” Davis said.
The safety studies and the minutes from the input meeting have been published on the city’s website for the public to view.