Highway 42 revisited
By Rob Treynor
Plain City Village Council met for the final time this year on Monday night, and revisited the familiar topic of speed limits along U.S. Route 42.
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 6 Deputy Director Ferzan M. Ahmed, and ODOT Traffic Safety Engineer Dave Carlin were guests at the meeting, affording council the opportunity to ask what steps would be necessary to change the speed limit along U.S. Route 42, south of West Avenue.
“There are two ways to set a speed limit,” Carlin explained. “One, you develop a speed study. And if the village agrees with the speed limit determined from the study, you can go about it that way.”
“Another way it to go through the definitions of the Ohio Revised Code. When a highway goes through a municipal district, the code states that the speed must drop from 55 to 50 m.p.h.,” Carlin said. “When a highway goes through district zoned for business, the limit drops to 35.”
“If you can agree that this stretch of road is a business district, it could go down to 35. But you’d have to defend your zoning in a court of law if challenged.”
A recent traffic study of the stretch of road (North of the Copperfield development up to West Avenue) determined the speed limit should be set at 48 m.p.h. ODOT rounds down in these situations, setting the limit to no less than 45 m.p.h. Council recently voted on a resolution to drop the speed limit to 45, but it did not pass on the third reading. The objecting council members expressed their thought that a speed change from 50 m.p.h. to 45 m.p.h. was not significant drop in speed.
Council member Doug Saxour asked the ODOT representatives more about traffic studies. “What determines that speed limit? Is it volume of traffic? Is it accidents?”
Carlin said, “The thing that affects the speed limit recommendation the most is the speed that drivers are currently driving. If people are already driving 45, it’s because they feel comfortable at that speed. But crashes and number of driveways also come into play in determining the limit.”
“At this point, the data will not get you what you want,” Ahmed said to council, referring to the proposed 35 m.p.h. speed limit. “I believe you’d be better served to develop that area as a business district.”
Village solicitor Eamon Costello warned council, “Re-zoning isn’t easy. You can’t just wave a magic wand and say this is now a business district.”
After council met with ODOT, mayor Adkins swore in Shannon Pine as the newest member of the Planning and Zoning committee. Pine will replace Jack Halston on the committee.
“I have we just heard what your first order of business will be,” Costello quipped.