MOUNT VERNON — The city is not ready to implement a solution for the Edgewood Road traffic issue, but it does have a better understanding of what is going on to create the problem.
Thursday evening, representatives of the traffic engineering firm Carpenter Marty presented the results of the origin and destination study of traffic on Edgewood. The results were not unexpected, but as City Engineer Brian Ball pointed out, now the city knows the nature of the problem and is better equipped to evaluate possible ways to alleviate the problem.
The study actually provided a lot of data, but the essential element was that of traffic coming from the south side of Mount Vernon and heading for the retail area on Coshocton Avenue. Sixty-two percent use routes that take them over residential streets.
The break down is that 38 percent travel through downtown and use U.S. 36 (Coshocton Avenue) to reach their destination, while 41 percent use Mount Vernon Avenue, 7 percent take Gambier Street east to at least Edgewood and the remaining 14 percent use East High Street and other residential streets to get to the retail area.
Ball said that the next logical step would be to have Richland Engineering take several of the proposals that have been put forth over the years and evaluate them as to cost and effect.
That immediately drew some criticism when it was misinterpreted as a call for another study, but he tried to explain how this data will enable a better evaluation of those proposals, including the Eastern Star connector road several of the audience seems to favor.
Council member Nancy Vail, one of four council members attending, started insisting that they need to do something. They’ve been talking about solutions for too many years and the various proposals just keep getting more expensive.
Ball did say that one easy thing the city may be able to do in the 2019 budget is to install features such as islands and planting along High Street, east of Park Street, so the street looks less like a thoroughfare and more like a residential area.
When Councilman Chris Menapace pushed Ball about why some things like the High Street work weren’t already in place, Ball explained that the decision was made that the city’s highest priority had to be the Parrott/South Main Street intersection and other projects had to go on the back burner for a while.
Menapace would later comment about one of the earlier proposals to build a connector road, and that spending $12 million to take 1,000 cars per day off Edgewood didn’t make any sense.
Mayor Richard Mavis said he was disappointed in the turnout, with less than a dozen people from the neighborhood being there. In addition to Menapace and Vail, the attendees also included council members Jeff Gottke, Matt Starr and Safety-Service Director Joel Daniels.
Mavis said that now with this study to put things in perspective, the city can look at some of the specifics, and he urged residents to get a copy of the 25-page report Carpenter Marty produced and study it.
Ball said some of those specifics the city might be able to go ahead with might include more work like what he illustrated on High Street, which he summed up as finding ways to stop drivers from behaving badly. He did not have a chance to get more specific about traffic calming, but he did mention traffic humps as being among the possibilities.
Almost overlooked in the traffic data, Ball noted that the study also tracked vehicles coming form the north and northwest side of town, which revealed vehicles also using residential streets, including Beech Street. Ball said traffic in that area may affect more people than on Edgewood.
One of the interesting things about the study, and no one really commented on it, was that most of the data was gathered by a company mining data generated by apps on smart phones, including GPS systems, weather apps and any thing else that generates location data.