Plan for Oberlin roundabouts spurs excitement

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Jason Hawk | Oberlin News-Tribune
It’s about a mile-long straight shot down Pyle-South Amherst Road from Rt. 511 to Hamilton Street. Officials are leaning toward a plan to install four mini-roundabouts to slow speeders there.

NOTE: This article is part of an expansive special report on Oberlin city council and administrators’ plans for 2019. To learn about land seizures, potential demolition of the Morgan Street waterworks, the future of two reservoirs, development of the city research park, fire department staffing concerns, and more, read the Feb. 7 edition of the Oberlin News-Tribune in the Lorain County Community Guide.

JASON HAWK
EDITOR

Stop signs can’t be used to slow traffic along the virtual dragstrip that is Pyle-South Amherst Road — state law doesn’t allow them to be used that way.

So after talking with residents fed up with speeders, Oberlin public works director Jeff Baumann has proposed a novel solution to the problem.

He wants to build four mini-roundabouts between Rt. 511 and Hamilton Street — at Robin Park Boulevard, Spruce Drive, Morgan Street, and the Oberlin Golf Club crossing.

Those are already three-way intersections where the single leg has a stop sign.

Each roundabout would cost between $10,000 and $20,000, Baumann estimated.

They would be 20 feet wide and would not have trees, walls, or statues in the middle so that police and fire vehicles could drive straight through the center in an emergency.

When asked by councilman Ronnie Rimbert whether speed bumps would be an alternate solution, Baumann said they are not effective and pose a hazard for snow plows.

In fact, some people drive faster over speed bumps, he said.

Council members voiced enthusiasm for the roundabouts, though Rimbert said he believes police should also write more tickets for Pyle-South Amherst speeders.

If approved, Baumann’s plan could move forward with a $250,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant after the state funding is released July 1.

There is a second issue along the mile-long stretch of roadway, though: Many residents there have asked for sidewalks and bike paths.

The OPWC won’t pay for pedestrian routes. But if the city chooses to invest in their creation, sidewalks and curb lawn trees have a psychological impact that causes drivers to slow down, Baumann said.

City manager Rob Hillard said there is sufficient right-of-way along Pyle-South Amherst Road to build those features.

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