Whiting Moves HH Safety Talks to September
Residents along Highway HH are stuck between living on a road owned by the county, but within the Village of Whiting. (City-Times photo)
By Sara Marls
Officials in the Village of Whiting say they’ve postponed discussing options to improve safety along County Highway HH.
Village leaders same residents have suggested lane reductions, speed reductions and turn-only lanes as options for slowing down traffic on the county road, which runs through a residential neighborhood.
Whiting Public Safety Committee Chairman Steve Orlikowski said the village will hear everything residents have to say, but there’s little that can be done.
“That being a county highway, it’s out of our hands for the most part.”
Board Member Kevin Lutz also said the village’s 1,780 residents couldn’t carry the full weight of the bill for extensive roadway work even if the plan were realistic, nor was he sure they’d want do.
“I’ve asked Chief Deputy (Dan) Kontos to increase patrols there, and I think he has, and I just don’t know what else we can do there,” Lutz said.
County Highway HH is largely located inside the village, but is owned and maintained by Portage County. The village pays the county to plow snow, shave snowbanks and update the road surface.
Village leaders also have concerns about the unmanned school crossing at HH and School Street, but have been unable to fill the crossing guard position. The previous crossing guards- a husband & wife team- retired after several years on the job.
For now, students who live in that area are asked to take the bus to school instead of walking.
Other suggestions including placing yield or stop sign on the HH/School Street intersection, or to install rumble strips along the roadway. But county leaders say there’s no data supporting any changes along the road.
“Any change in speed has to be justified by a speed or traffic study,” said Highway Commissioner Nathan Check.
County records show that stretch of road was last studied in 2007. The roadway is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2016, and bicycle lanes and additional sidewalks have been recommended by the county’s bicycle-pedestrian plan, but those elements haven’t been scheduled yet.
“The first thing we’d need to do is conduct a traffic study to see how fast cars are traveling on that stretch of road,” Check said, adding the village would have to pay for the study but said the cost varied.
“We wouldn’t recommend a stop sign out there because stop signs are used for intersection control,” Check said. “And we don’t have a history of accidents out there, and there seems to be good traffic control.”
Check added the village should consider whether safety was truly a problem along HH. Currently no traffic study is being planned for the road.
Village President Paul Stroik said the village would hear from residents at its September meeting.