Officials discuss upgrade of cloverleaf signage
EAST LIVERPOOL — Apparently city Safety-Service Director Brian Allen wasn’t lying when he told officials at the Ohio Department of Transportation that East Liverpool lacked the funds for proposed signage upgrades to the cloverleaf ramp earlier this year.
During a city Streets Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon, he reminded council members that they only allowed him $105 in his budget for signage and painting in the 2019 budget, despite spending six figures the year before.
Councilman Scott Barrett, who chairs the committee, along with Jeff Kreefer called the meeting after learning about ODOT’s recommendations from earlier this year, which were never implemented.
Joseph Parisi, a traffic maintenance engineer with ODOT, had emailed Allen in January, requesting that the city upgrade the signage at the interchange of U.S. Route 30 and state Route 7, after having conducted an accident analysis on the interchange based on a complaint regarding “numerous close calls.” As Parisi explained to Allen in the Jan. 31 email, traffic coming up the U.S. Route 30 westbound does not yield to the traffic exiting onto the state Route 7 south exit ramp along state Route 11.
“Since the interchange is located within the city, we are requesting the proposed signage be installed by the city,” Parisi explained before requesting Allen install five new signs and promote that No Merge ahead.
When asked about the email, Allen explained that a quote from the city’s sign vendor to upgrade the signage exceeded $1145, while council had only given him $105 in this year’s budget, and that is just enough for three handicapped parking signs at $35 each. East Liverpool would be expected to eat the cost of the upgrades even though the state controls the signage on state routes.
When councilman Brian Kerr, who also was in attendance with Ernest Peachey for the meeting, learned about the ODOT email earlier this month, he had solicited quotes and estimated the job to cost around $500.
Allen stressed that he isn’t against doing the changes; however, council did not allot him enough money in the fund to do them. The councilmen in attendance also promised personal moneys towards the upgrades, which would make the signs six inches bigger?
Kerr did question why Allen didn’t notify him of the communication and the issues if he believed it was an unsafe intersection, especially due to ODOT changing their lane requirements.
Allen asked Kerr, “Why didn’t you come to me and ask (especially if you knew it was a problem),” as many council members knew about the near misses at that intersection. “If you find me the money, I’ll put up the signage.”
East Liverpool spent more than $12,000 on signs and paint out of the code in 2017, he added.
The city safety-service director expressed his opinion that the whole intersection is bad and recommended that council consider earmarking some of the extra gasoline tax revenue for items like signage.
Barrett, who is the road supervisor for nearby St. Clair Township in addition to serving as fourth ward councilman, didn’t disagree that it might be a good idea. For example, he explained that it generally costs $2,000 a mile to just stripe a road and East Liverpool has 80 miles to do.
Allen explained that replacing yield signage with stop signage is not the answer. “(If it was), the state would have already let us put them up there.”
All contributions towards the signage can be sent to the City of East Liverpool, 126 W. Sixth St., East Liverpool 43920. Be sure to mark “signage” on the memo line to assure it gets deposited to the right account.
In other action, committee members also discussed ODOT’s proposed repaving on state Route 39 in the city’s East End. As Mayor Ryan Stovall explained in a social media post prior to the meeting, “The city’s portion of this project currently is set at 20 percent, but my administration will work diligently to get that number down to 5 percent or less as we have done in the past,” adding that to repave all the roadway would require in excess of $58 million.
Currently the city’s share of the project, which exceeds $1 million, would be $267,945; however, Allen said that they look to apply for grant funding from entities like the Ohio Public Works to bring that number down. The Streets committee agreed to forward the ordinance, which would trigger inclusion of the project on ODOT’s work list, to council as a whole.
Allen said that East Liverpool, concerned about the pending closure of Route 30 in Pennsylvania, requested a new traffic study for Pennsylvania Avenue.