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City eyes safer routes

Andy Ouriel • Dec 1, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Norwalk officials unveiled an ambitious plan to make the community safer for children, walkers and bicyclists. At a public meeting earlier this week, officials pinpointed several pedestrian problem areas and offered solutions to fix safety hazards.


The tentative upgrades include: 


• Painting crosswalks in bold colors, notifying drivers to know where people walk.


• Installing flashing lights in areas in or near school zones, alerting drivers to slow down.

• Creating full-fledged bike lanes — the first ever overseen by city officials in Norwalk — offering two-wheeled riders a dedicated path where they can trek beside vehicles without interfering with people on sidewalks.

• Placing “no turn on red” and “no parking during school hours” signs in various areas.

• Putting mirrors at various intersections, allowing drivers to see pedestrians crossing the street.

• Replacing cracked or crooked sidewalks.

“This proposed plan addresses areas of concern for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists alike,” Norwalk engineer Josh Snyder said. Several of the specific locations have been concerns historically for their flow of and safety for all modes of traffic”    

Funding woes

Almost anyone would welcome the improvements.

Problem is, Snyder couldn’t answer how — or even if or when — the projects would get funding.

In fact, Snyder doesn’t have an estimate for how much all these improvements would cost.

City officials must find and secure money, whether through the local budget backed by area taxpayers or grants, before they can begin enhancements.

Some possible funding sources include obtaining money from Safe Routes to Schools. It’s a state initiative designed to fund enhanced pathways for children and community members to walk or bike on designated pathways without competing for space on streets or private yards.

In 2013, the initiative awarded $7.2 million for safety improvements to various communities across Ohio.

Government officials representing Perkins Township, Port Clinton and Vermilion have also received Safe Routes funding in recent times.

Despite the funding questions, Norwalk officials remain optimistic about improving these safety shortcomings.

“With the implementation of the proposed improvements at these locations, we anticipate higher levels of awareness, confidence, safety and ultimately usage of the infrastructure along these routes,” Snyder said.

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