Editor’s note: There were only a handful of submitted letters with only a few questions for clarification on the proposed Fifth Street Project. The majority of responses were statements saying to keep the corridor at four lanes and keep the traffic signals in place.

DELPHOS — The proposed Fifth Street Project has received much negative feedback with most complaints centering around speed and safety, the two main reasons a study was done on the corridor in the first place.

“When looking at the Fifth Street corridor, the city’s main concerns were also speed and safety,” Delphos Safety Service Director Shane Coleman said. “We would do nothing we felt was unsafe for our residents.”

Eighty accidents were reported along the stretch of Fifth Street under consideration from 2014 to 2016. Half were at signaled intersections with a third of all accidents failure to yield. The intersection of Pierce and Fifth streets has the second highest occurrence of accidents with a traffic signal in place.

Studies have proven that by taking a road down to three lanes and removing two impact points at intersections, it makes travel safer.

Transportation Engineer and former Delphos resident Scott Knebel, having traveled Fifth Street a good deal, is a proponent of the road diet and said the proposed changes will produce a safer corridor.

“Road diets are proven to reduce accidents by 20-50 percent,” Knebel said. “In the world of safety, that is close to a silver bullet solution. Why would you not want to reduce accidents, not only in frequency, but severity?”

Knebel said the city is receiving reliable advisement from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“ODOT does this on a regular basis,” he said. “The city is paying good money and getting good advice.”

Knebel also addressed the issue of oversized and slow-moving vehicles such as farm equipment.

“The average header on a combine is 15-16 feet. They vary, of course, but that’s an average,” Knebel said. “The average lane width on Fifth Street now is 12 feet so that vehicle is hanging over three feet into the other lane. To get around it, a driver has to enter a lane of oncoming traffic. With three lanes, the farm equipment will be able to utilize the bike lane as long as there isn’t a bicycle in it, and a driver will not have to enter oncoming traffic to get around it, making it much safer. You have 31 feet with the road diet versus the 24 feet in a four lane.”

Knebel added that misinformation is common with something people are unfamiliar with and change is hard for most people.

“I believe the city is taking advice from qualified people who are deliberate in what they do. This proposal will facilitate a safer corridor,” he said.

Overall, a road diet (3-lane) has many safety benefits, including:

— Crashes are reduced by 19-47 percent

— Speed is usually reduced to posted miles per hour

— Crossing distance is shorter for side street traffic

— Sight distance is improved by shifting through traffic

— Ped/bike benefits are compatible with future Safe Route to School plan

Many have questioned the need for and proposed location for bike lanes in Delphos. There are three reasons the bike lanes were added to the project:

— Federal bike route (USBR 44) planned on Fifth Street.

— Quality of life improved for pedestrians walking along Fifth Street

— Accommodating other transportation modes

“I think the difference between having eight feet between pedestrians and one foot is a huge difference and will give pedestrians a much better experience,” Knebel said.

Ohio has passed a law giving bicycles just as much right to the road as motorized vehicles. The cost of road diet vs. current 4-lane alignment is relatively the same. Removal of the proposed bike lanes eliminates the cost of paint.

Additional considerations:

The city is currently in the midst of a Safe Route to School (SRTS) study and application in conjunction with Allen County Public Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program. Members of Allen County Public Health, City of Delphos, Delphos Jefferson, Delphos St. John’s and Lima Allen County Regional Planning have been attending meetings.

Investigating curbs, gutters, catch basins and driveway approaches along with potential funding streams that would allow the city to incorporate these items into the design as well. These costs alone are estimated at $992,000.

Project Breakdown

Original ODOT Project

· Mill and Pave (State Street to Ft. Jennings Road)

· Curb Ramps at all intersections

· City responsible for 20 percent of cost (estimated $252,478)

City’s project (in addition to ODOT project)

· Mill and pave State to Menke

· Mill and pave Ft. Jennings to US30

· Curb ramps at all intersections (required for funding)

· Sidewalks west of State Street (required for funding)

· Sidewalks east of Elida Road (required for funding)

· Minor signal upgrades at Elida/Fifth and Ft. Jennings/Fifth

· City responsible for 20 percent of cost (estimated $223,881)

The City of Delphos has secured approximately $1.7 million for the project (Menke Addition to US30) which is 80 percent of estimated cost.