Hilliard drops art-oriented traffic-calming proposal on Norwich Street after residents balk

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
This rendering illustrates a proposed Hilliard project to add roadside art on Norwich Street as a traffic-calming measure.

Hilliard has abandoned a proposal to use vibrant on-street artwork as a trial traffic-calming measure on Norwich Street after residents opposed it.

“(Norwich Street) residents were strongly not interested, (so) there are no plans to move forward with the project,” said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

Nor are there any immediate plans to address traffic calming in another manner, Ball said.

“There is no ‘Plan B,’ (and) nothing is in the current (capital-improvements budget) for traffic calming," he said. "This (proposal) was a low-cost, experimental approach."

Any alternative approach would come "at a significant cost,” Ball said.

Norwich Street between Cemetery and Main streets is primarily a residential stretch of road, with some residences converted to office or business uses. It has a 25 mph speed limit.

In December, city officials suggested adding vibrant artwork along the sides of Norwich Street, between Cemetery and Wayne streets, in a narrow strip between the drive lanes and the off-street parking areas, to slow motorists.

In a Dec. 4 memo to Hilliard City Council, Letty Schamp, the deputy city engineer, wrote that motorists on Norwich Street have traveled at 32 to 33 mph since 2013, likely because Norwich Street is a neighborhood street that provides a direct connection between arterial streets and is both wide and long, elements that contribute to speeding.

Schamp said the artwork traffic-calming measure would be a pilot project and that officials did not know how effective it would be.

But leaders hoped it would signal to drivers that “something changed” and cause them to slow down, she said.

It was viewed as both a cost-saving approach to traffic calming and an aesthetic improvement, she said.

On Jan. 26, Schamp met with Norwich Street residents virtually to explain the proposal in further detail and agreed to accept further input through Feb. 12.

Based on those results, the city decided to not advance the project, Ball said Feb. 16.

Of 14 respondents, only one supported the proposal, Ball said.

Meanwhile, Jim Dougherty, a Norwich Street resident, said Jan. 27 he did not think the proposal would have any effect on slowing traffic and questioned how it would be maintained.

“I’m not convinced it will work,” Dougherty said.

He also questioned the cost to maintain it and how it might look in several years.

“It will chip (and) look like crap,” Dougherty said.

Ben Buoni, another Norwich Street resident, also questioned the continuing cost to maintain the paint.

Stop signs at such intersections as Hamilton Road would be more effective to slow traffic, Buoni said.

In a Feb. 16 letter to Norwich Street residents and business owners, Ball told recipients the city “would not be proceeding with this concept.”

The estimated cost of the abandoned project over five years was $22,500.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo