Drivers soon will notice a speed-limit change near the railroad tracks on Powell Road.

Drivers soon will notice a speed-limit change near the railroad tracks on Powell Road.

In the next 60 days, the city's maintenance department will install new signs 550 feet west of the crossing that will lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour from the current 35-mph limit.

Powell City Council approved the change at its Aug. 20 meeting in an effort to make the crossing safer.

"We're trying to clean up the downtown area and make it clear to motorists to not stop on the railroad tracks," council Vice President Jim Hrivnak said.

Hrivnak is the chairman of the development committee, which for the last year has been discussing ways to draw attention to the tracks that he said have forced unprepared drivers to pull their vehicles off the road to avoid oncoming trains.

He said drivers often find themselves stopped in the middle of the crossing because of unanticipated traffic backed up at the Four Corners intersection. He also said drivers could find themselves in a dangerous situation because they're focused on all the signs near the tracks.

Those signs currently include two for the speed limit changes that occur between downtown and where the road turns into West Olentangy Street past the railroad tracks.

"The committee noted that the current traffic signage at the railroad crossing is cluttered," Hrivnak wrote in an email. "Eastbound motorists are overloaded with a speed-limit change, a no left turn on Depot Street, a railroad-crossing sign and a reminder not to stop on the tracks.

"By moving the speed boundary west and by separating the no-left-turn sign, the motorist's attention to the new high-visibility railroad crossing signage will be improved," he added.

When the speed-limit sign is moved farther down Powell Road, the maintenance department also will install signs that draw attention to the tracks and remind eastbound drivers to look carefully and to avoid stopping in the crossing.

Although fellow council members said they were skeptical of the speed-limit change leading to increased driver awareness, all agreed to approve the signs.

Hrivnak reassured council that the signs are just the first piece of a comprehensive plan to make the tracks safer.

He said the development committee will continue to explore options, including the installation of medians near the crossing, traffic-pattern changes at Depot Street, and a special signal that would stop traffic before it nears the tracks.