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Planned removal of German Village traffic light concerns residents

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - At the intersection of Thurman Avenue and Jaeger Street, a traffic light is now a blinking red light.

The intersection is transitioning into a four-way stop.

One local resident, Ray Charles Harrison, has to cross that intersection every day to get to his coffee shop.

Harrison has lived in the area since 1974. He went blind in 1986 and ever since, he has used his memory to navigate through his daily life. But over the years, things around his neighborhood have changed.

People who work at the businesses on that intersection fear for his safety.

"A lot of chaos is how I would describe it," says Darnell Wilson.

Wilson works at All About Dogs on the corner of Thurman Avenue and Jeager Street. The change
 is not sitting well with him.

"A lot of close calls, and accidents," noted Wilson. "I am worried about him sometimes when he goes to cross. I look and I’m like is he alright? Did he make it? Because I barely make it through sometimes."

We talked with Harrison a few weeks ago about the new changes coming to that intersection. He was scared about the transition and was worried he wouldn't be able to cross the street safely.

An engineer with the city of Columbus and a representative from the ADA met with him about the changes.

They took his concerns and are making different changes to that intersection to make crossing a little easier for him.

"We know the crosswalks are a little older so they will be upgraded into a newer style crosswalk and they are going to use a material called thermal plastic that creates a raise on the roadway," said Michael Liggett, Community Relations Coordinator for Public Service Dept.

They told NBC4 that Harrison was on board with the changes.

"One of the nice things the resident, Ray, actually loves is the conversion to a four-way stop," said Liggett. "He feels a lot safer but we did note some enhancements that could be made to help Ray."

"It's still going to be an adjustment period because you’re so used to something and this change comes in and it can be scary. We’re still getting mixed messages coming in.”

But when NBC4 sat down with Harrison, he had a different story.

"All I’m concerned about is me being able to cross it safely," Harrison said. "I think the traffic light is more controlled. "It’s better because with the stop it’s constant traffic and constant noise." 

Although there seems to be a miscommunication between Harrison and the city, Harrison is thrilled his voice is being heard in some way.

"It made me feel good because of the fact that they came out to see what the problem was," said Harrison. "At least they are aware that there is a problem and hopefully they will check n the other intersections to see if the same problem exists there."

The light won't permanently be removed until the end of the 90 day trial period, which will be this summer.

City officials said Ray told them he liked the new four-way stop and could not comment if he told NBC4 otherwise.

The new additions to the crosswalk should go in soon, said Liggett.


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