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Pleasant Ridge still waiting for safety improvements on Montgomery Road

Posted: 6:14 PM, Oct 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-02 01:30:32Z
Pleasant Ridge still waiting for safety improvements on Montgomery Road

CINCINNATI -- The push for safer streets in Pleasant Ridge continued Monday when neighbors headed to City Hall for a progress report on efforts to calm traffic along Montgomery Road and Ridge Avenue.

It's an effort now years in the making -- getting drivers to slow down.

Patrick Dorsey manages Everybody's Records & CDs on Montgomery Road. He said he's seen the problem get worse over the last decade or so.

"We've been here 40 years, and it's probably gotten worse over the last 10 or 15 years," Dorsey said. "People are more aggressive these days just in every part of their lives. That translates into their driving, I would imagine."

WCPO first reported on street safety in Pleasant Ridge back in April, shortly after Cincinnati police concluded a period of targeted speed enforcement along Montgomery Road. The neighborhood first requested increased enforcement in 2016 after the city solicited feedback from all 52 neighborhoods on how to make residents feel safer walking and driving their streets.

It was hardly a month later when Terri Gossard was elected president of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council.

She said it wasn't long into her tenure leading the community that the issue became "horrifically" clear.

"Since I've taken the reigns as president, we've had four citizens struck crossing in a crosswalk legally -- one of them a three-year-old child being pulled in a wagon," she said. "Fortunately none of them were life-threatening injuries. Many of them needed to have a visit to the emergency room.

"There's something that's particularly horrific about a child in a wagon," she said.

Those conditions prompted Gossard and others to check in with the city administration on more than 20 possible improvements to Pleasant Ridge's business district in the vicinity of Montgomery and Ridge, including more signage, some traffic signal changes and reconfiguring the lanes on Montgomery Road.

Gossard said they've seen some of those changes implemented -- including restricting right turns on red at multiple intersections -- but it's not enough.

"That's something we've been particularly frustrated with," Gossard said. "We heard today an itemized spreadsheet that our Safe Streets (board) has been working with the city on. This spreadsheet has been around for two and a half years, and we're just now starting to get signage -- especially as we're starting to see increased foot traffic, increased bike traffic and no changes with respect to the engineering and enforcement."

As far as engineering, the city has scheduled an overhaul of Montgomery Road. It will be a $2.5 million " road diet " that will restripe the road into five 10-foot lanes -- one travel lane in each direction with a center turn lane, and two parking lanes. The current configuration is six 9-foot lanes. The city will also repaint a number of deteriorating crosswalk stripes as part of the project.

But that work won't start for another year.

Many of the actions the community and city would like to take have gotten mired in red tape. Changing the speed limit on Losantiville Avenue from 35 miles per hour to 25, for instance, requires a speed study and then approval by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Money also becomes an issue, Gossard said. For the second consecutive year, City Council allocated $500,000 to pedestrian safety initiatives throughout the city, but Gossard worries that's not enough for what many neighborhoods need.

"Budget is always an issue," she said. "That's what we look for from a new director of transportation and engineering -- the assignment of budgetary funds for things that are really critical to the residents of Pleasant Ridge."

The Department of Transportation and Engineering is currently operating under interim leadership, after the previous director resigned this past the spring.

In the mean time, Pleasant Ridge continues to wait -- and watch cars continue to speed through the heart of the neighborhood.