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Roundabouts might make Harrison Avenue safer

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Posted at 1:03 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 01:03:51-04

CINCINNATI -- Westwood roads have seen 1,281 crashes since 2015. In 308 of those, someone involved was hurt. Although Cincinnati police plan to include Westwood in their month-long "blitz" of increased traffic enforcement, residents want longer-term change. 

Ken Ray, deputy director of the D.C-based Toole Design Group, hopes his firm can help provide it. He presented a tentative plan to restructure the neighborhood's streets in a way that would make them safer and more beautiful.

A particular point of focus: Harrison Avenue, where a hit-and-run driver fatally struck 15-year-old Gabriella Rodriguez in September.

"(Harrison) is one of those things where pedestrians, bicyclists, people in cars -- everybody is using the same roads," Ray said. Improvements he suggested might include an effort to "lower the speed a bit (and) get some intersections to work a little better."

Replacing existing intersections with roundabouts, which studies suggest reduce all crashes and particularly cut down on fatalities, could be part of it. So could adding "bulb-outs," short curb extensions at street-ends that narrow the roadway and caution drivers to be mindful of pedestrians.

"(We want to) put a street tree that kind of visually narrows the street so cars don't feel like they're driving through a straight drag strip," Ray said.

Dedicated bike lanes and more pedestrian crosswalks could play help, too. More than anything, Ray emphasized making Westwood safer will involve joint effort from residents, pedestrians, police and everyone involved in restructuring its roads.

Although the presentation given Tuesday night was not final, Ray said his firm hopes to arrive at a finalized version and present it to the Ohio Department of Transportation soon.