Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Fort leaders vote to close street to semi traffic
By William Kincaid
FORT RECOVERY - Village council members on Monday night voted to close Fort Site Street to semitrailers due to safety concerns.
The ordinance, which bars semitrailers from traveling and parking on the street between state Routes 119 and 49 along the museum and historical fort, was unanimously approved on its final reading.
It will take effect in 30 days.
Village administrator Randy Diller said town officials and representatives of J&M Manufacturing, Cooper Farms and the Mercer County Engineering Department will meet next month with Ohio Department of Transportation officials to discuss long-term options to alleviate semitrailer traffic in Fort Recovery.
Fort Site Street was used during the summer as a bypass for semitrailers while crews worked on a sewer separation project that closed parts of state Route 49 and the blocks between the IGA and Monument Park.
Before council members voted Monday night, mayor Roger Broerman opened the floor to public comment but told the audience of 15 people - many of them truck drivers - to refrain from repeating statements made at the last meeting.
Ivan Kaffenberger of Wayne Oil Co. spoke in favor of keeping the street open to semitrailers.
"It's the shortest route for these guys to get out of town. It's not like they're wanting to drive around town for 10 minutes or 15 minutes to get through town," he said.
Jeff Grieshop of J&M Manufacturing Co. asked council members to keep the street open until they determine if a long-term truck traffic mitigation plan can be reached with ODOT.
"I've got eight trucks. I don't have that many trucks that run it, but they do run it every week and they like that route," he said. "Personally, my trucks never had an accident there."
Resident Butch Leuthold said he would like to see the street closed to semitrailers, noting the historical fort, museum, amphitheater and a bank entrance all are located there.
"Anybody comes to Fort Recovery, the little bit we have to offer, our historical value, is on that street, other than the monument, and they shouldn't have to fight the semis going through there," he said.
Diller stressed the Fort Recovery Historical Society had nothing to do with the village's plan to close the street. Society members never voted on the proposal nor asked the village to initiate it, he said.
The historical society is not taking a stand on the issue as it does not want to adversely impact donations, Diller said.
"We're doing it partly because of them but not because they requested it, so please don't let it affect how you think of the historical society," Diller said. "It has nothing to do with them. They didn't start this."
Village officials have discussed closing the street to big rig traffic for the last 15 years, according to Diller.
Council members wanted to delay closing the street to semitrailer traffic until after the extensive two-phase sewer separation project was completed, he said.
Fort Site Street has a right of way of 22.5 feet, Diller said. The second narrowest street in town has a right of way of 50 feet.
Trucks have gotten bigger, heavier and longer and traffic has increased, Diller said.
Police chief Jared Laux said an accident happened just recently in which the driver of a car on Fort Site Street was backing up to allow a truck to make a turn when the car hit another vehicle.
"That person got cited because they backed into another vehicle," Laux said. "With the way that hill is, they couldn't see the vehicle behind them. So they were trying to do the right thing ... they ended up getting a citation themselves."
Broerman also talked about difficulties arising from semi traffic on Fort Site Street. Broer-man said he rode in a semitrailer that drove on the street.
"You cannot make that turn unless you're completely on that east side of that road," he said.
Diller also said that trucks can't make the turn off Fort Site Street onto state Route 119 without blocking both lanes of traffic, and the problem is only going to intensify with increased truck traffic.
Diller, who said he realizes that J&M Manufacturing and Cooper Farms are big players that contribute to the community, told the audience that whatever decision council makes, somebody is going to be upset. The concerns of those speaking out did not fall on deaf ears, he added.
Councilman Dave Kaup said he has a lot of respect for the people in the audience and noted that agriculture is the base of the community. However, he was elected to represent all the people of Fort Recovery, he said.
"I think my job is to listen to the people that voted me in, and I think they weigh heavier," he said. "I've had more people tell me that they don't want the trucks going through there."