Tri-Village News

City hustling to make safety improvements around school

Speed bumps, dropoff changes, more in works as city prepares for arrival of Nationwide

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Concerns about safety in the area of First Avenue near Stevenson Elementary School and Pierce Field have been put in sharper focus with the announcement that Nationwide Insurance plans to build a corporate campus at Grandview Yard.

Many of the 3,000 employees who will move to the Yard will drive on First Avenue to get to work. The road will be extended across Northwest Boulevard and along what is now Burrell Avenue and dead-end at a new 2.5-acre park that will lead to Nationwide's main building.

But worries about traffic around Stevenson are "an issue with or without what is going on" at the Yard, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

The traffic concerns were discussed last Thursday, July 10, during a meeting of Grandview Heights City Council's safety committee.

DeGraw reviewed a number of actions the city and school district will take to make conditions safer for youngsters and other pedestrians heading to and from the school and park.

Several improvements are expected to be in place when school opens Aug. 13, he said.

Stevenson Elementary School's dropoff location for first- and second-graders will move from First Avenue to Oxley Road, DeGraw said.

A speed bump will be returned to Oxley to force motorists heading south to slow down, he said. A raised crosswalk also is being installed on Oxley.

Sidewalk improvements have been made on Hilo Lane, and the parking lane on Hilo will be posted as a dropoff zone only between 7 and 9 a.m. on school days, DeGraw said.

In July 2015, the city will receive federal grant money to pay for intersection improvements throughout town, and those improvements will include intersections near the school, he said.

"Bumpouts" will be installed at some intersections to reduce the length of the crosswalk and the time pedestrians will spend crossing the street, DeGraw said.

School-zone flashing lights and crosswalks also will be installed at First Avenue's intersections with Oxley, Parkway North and Virginia Avenue.

The city will create a community task force to begin a comprehensive planning process for the First Avenue and Northwest Boulevard corridor.

The planning commission is being asked to initiate the process that will result in a traffic, urban design and streetscape plan for the area, planning and administration committee Chairwoman Greta Kearns said.

The area in question covers First Avenue from Northwest Boulevard to the area near the kindergarten hill by Stevenson, including Pierce Field and the commercial strip along First, she said.

The issue was on the agenda for the planning commission meeting set Wednesday, July 16.

Among the issues the task force will consider are First Avenue public improvements, traffic, urban design and aesthetics, First Avenue streetscape and connectivity, Kearns said.

"The process is not limited to those issues," she said.

Residents are encouraged to participate in the task force and/or attend the public forums that will be part of its work, Kearns said.

"We're interested in hearing any ideas residents may have," she said. "We've already getting some suggestions from people."

The task force is a continuation of the community planning process that began about 15 years ago, Kearns said.

"The plans made richer every time we revisit it," she said.

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