CALCUTTA-Township trustees and Police Chief Donald Hyatt have been waiting for some time to hear from the owner of Dunham's Plaza regarding what can be done to remedy a dangerous exit and entrance located near the Calcutta Post office along state Route 170.
Hyatt reported to trustees Tuesday that he has not heard back from the plaza's owner since sending the exit's most recent traffic accident data to the owner.
Trustees have been discussing different options to make the exit safer since March. Discussions have focused mainly on banning or restricting left turns out of the driveway, since most of the traffic accidents there are a result of motorists trying to turn left onto the busy stretch of state Route 170.
However, by conferring with Ohio Department of Transportation officials, trustees found that because the drive is privately owned neither they nor ODOT can force the plaza owners to restrict left turns at the location.
A meeting between trustees, ODOT officials, Chief Hyatt and the plaza's owners took place May 7 but did not yield any solutions.
In the spring, Hyatt tabulated the number of accidents at the site, finding that from 2007 to 2013, there have been 62 accidents at that particular site. At the time Hyatt presented this figure to trustees, he noted the number was probably low because the computer system used to by his department to document traffic accidents does not always properly identify the locations of accidents.
It's not clear how many, if any, accidents have occurred at the northeastern Dunham's exit since Hyatt conducted his count in March, but according to trustees at the time, the location had been averaging about an accident per month.
During Tuesday's meeting, Board Chairman James Hall questioned Hyatt as to whether the plaza's owner could be held responsible in the case that someone was killed or hurt in an accident at the dangerous location.
Hyatt responded that, in his opinion, the owners could not be held responsible criminally, but in civil court the owners could have a case brought against them by someone involved in an accident at the site.
"I'm sure you could find a lawyer that would take your case to try to show through litigation that this is a dangerous situation, it has been for some time. We've tried to correct it and the owner has failed somehow," said Hyatt adding, "Our level of liability has been mitigated because we've tired and tried (to find a solution), which we can certainly show."