Safer travel in Martins Ferry may be nearing

MARTINS FERRY – The city of Martins Ferry and its police and fire/emergency medical services departments are finally getting some help from the state with the ongoing danger that is the intersection of Ohio 7 and Hanover Street.

The Ohio Department of Transportation recently completed a 90-day study of the intersection and determined that something must be done.

Mayor Paul Riethmiller rifled off an email of inquiry to ODOT officials at the District 11 office in New Philadelphia Tuesday about the study as he hadn’t heard anything and the 90 day period had recently expired.

Help is on the way, and it will come in the form of a two-part approach – one, a short-term fixture and another, which should provide greater assistance in curtailing accidents at the intersection later in 2016.

But first up, the short-term fix.

Motorists currently traveling north on Ohio 7 and wishing to turn left onto Hanover can move into the turning lane and wait for the green turning arrow. After that turning arrow expires, they can still turn left on a solid green, provided they yield to southbound traffic. Not everyone does.

“People will edge up and try to play Russian roulette and cross with southbound traffic coming,” Riethmiller said. “Sometimes they make it; sometimes they don’t.

“Other times. drivers will think they have the green light and not realize that the traffic in the southbound lane doesn’t have a red light.

“You can’t blame ODOT for that. There is a sign there about yielding on green. People just don’t

The solution is to install a light that goes from a green turning arrow to a red turning arrow -without a solid green -and take the game of chance that is turning left into oncoming traffic out of the equation.

It will function similar to the turning lane for westbound traffic on National Road in Bridgeport that is seeking to turn left to reach the Interstate 70 on-ramp. It’s simple. No green, no turn. Still, there are those who may push the issue,

“We’re hoping this will do away with some of the accidents,” Police Chief John McFarland said. “We’ve had some pretty serious accidents that didn’t result in serious injury, but the possibility was there.

“Once it’s installed, if people attempt to proceed through the double-red arrow, we will do everything we can to enforce the law on people who disobey.”

This work will begin May 20 and should be completed by May 23.

The other problem is motorists in the southbound lane traveling too fast to stop in time for the red light. Or, motorists traveling south, still having a green, but rear-ending cars in the turning lane waiting to turn right onto Hanover Street. This is also an issue, also less frequent, at the next intersection with cars turning onto Aetna Street just south.

Riethmiller noted that in 2016, ODOT will work to install a southbound turning lane at both intersections which should great reduce the number of accidents.

“The majority of people involved in accidents are not local people. Local people know how dangerous this intersection is,” Riethmiller said. “When traveling south, the addition of a turning lane will help with the rear-end accidents at the light.

“Right now, if traffic is backed up and, even through the light is green, you’re still waiting to turn (on to Hanover), it can be a problem.

“What ODOT is doing is in 2016, they will start just past the foot bridge and put in a right-hand turning lane heading southbound.”

Riethmiller said he and city officials inquired about another layer of protection for the area by adding flashing yellow signs warning of a dangerous intersection leading up to Hanover and Ohio 7, warning drivers both in the north and southbound lanes.

That wasn’t an option, according to state officials, as Riethmiller explained ODOT was doing away with these particular types of signs.

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