Olentangy Valley News

Wildflower Drive

Neighbors petition Powell for study, traffic calming

High-speed crash spurs movement in neighborhood

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A petition will require the city of Powell to complete a traffic study on Wildflower Drive.

Residents living on the 25-mph street located in the Reserve subdivision spent May and June collecting 78 signatures of homeowners in the area who share their concern with speeders.

At the July 16 development committee meeting, the petition was reviewed and the search has begun for an engineer who can complete a traffic study.

Once the study is completed, the city will determine which, if any, traffic-calming measures should be put in place.

The process is all part of a traffic-calming policy enacted by Powell City Council in 2001. The policy requires residents who have complaints about the traffic on their street to submit a petition signed by at least 50 percent of households in the affected area. Only once a petition is filed will the city pay to have a traffic study completed.

This is the first time a petition has been submitted as part of the traffic-calming policy.

"Before we implement any measures like that, we wanted to get the neighborhood input and actually have a study to see what needs implemented," said Development Director Dave Betz. "We don't just want to react immediately to a handful of people complaining."

About a dozen Wildflower Drive residents brought their concerns to the attention of council in January after a driver who reportedly was going well over the posted speed limit was caught on tape crashing into a mailbox and stopping in a front yard.

In February, police reports showed someone crashed a vehicle into a tree in the front yard of a home on Wildflower Drive. The driver left the scene, so the cause of the crash is unknown, reports said.

Lisa Cady, who has lived on Wildflower Drive with her husband for six years and is leading the traffic-calming process, said speeding always has been a concern, but the winter accidents are what pushed her and her neighbors over the edge.

"We were one of the first residents and there weren't many houses, and so we figured eventually the traffic would get better over time, but it didn't, and the neighbors were noticing the same things, so we'd discuss it at block parties or out on the bus stop," Cady said.

"That incident (that resulted in the videotape) really started the business and we said, 'Something has got to be done because eventually this mailbox is going to become a child.' "

Once the concerns were voiced publicly, the Powell Police Department began monitoring the area. A speed study it conducted showed the average speed cars were traveling on the road was between 30 and 32 mph.

"The challenge is that we use marked cars so the presence of the car tends to slow people down," said Police Chief Gary Vest. "I think when they get a study through, they'll be able to determine a little more specifically what the average is."

Vest said the sidewalk-lined road is not likely to be a cut-through, meaning most of the speeders live nearby.

Wildflower Drive residents initially asked the city to erect stop signs along the road that extends from Rutherford Drive to Village Club Drive, but Vest said stop signs are often counter-intuitive to thwarting speeders because they will simply drive faster between stop signs to make up for the time that they're pausing.

When the study data is interpreted, Betz said any number of traffic-calming measures can be put in to place, including speed bumps, chicanes or curb extensions.

"I have four children and every one of my neighbors have at least two, and something is going to happen if these devices aren't put in," Cady said. "I don't have a preference of which traffic-calming device they use; I just want it to be effective."

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