Johnson asks questions on Third Street issue

February 20, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

In response to a story in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Times, First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson has issued an e-mail in which he poses several questions he believes have not been addressed in the plan by Shawnee State University or the city of Portsmouth, should the city decide to close Third Street from Gay Street to Waller Street.

Johnson was critical of the City Planning Commission’s lack of questioning of SSU representatives who made a presentation before that commission Tuesday. When the presentation was over and several members of the community, including Johnson, spoke and expressed concerns, the commission voted to approve the plan and to send it forward for consideration by Portsmouth City Council.

In his e-mail, Johnson expressed several questions he feels should have been addressed before passing the proposal.

Johnson’s list is a partial one, but demonstrates where he thinks the discussion should start.

  • What financial impact shall this closure have upon city taxpayers? A few come to mind immediately; such as expenditures for new or relocated traffic signals, new directional signs and lane markings, cross- walks and warning lights for children near the elementary school on Fourth Street, the condition of and potential improvements required for Fourth Street (paving, sidewalks, egress)…?
  • As the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) monitors and is responsible for traffic flow onto and off its bridges, and this change will impact traffic flow directly north of Grant Bridge, has ODOT been made aware of this proposed change and, if so, have they made any comments or recommendations?
  • What changes shall be made to ensure access and traffic flow into and out of First Christian Church and who shall bear such cost?
  • There are two lanes of traffic coming off Grant Bridge to Third Street; currently splitting with the right lane going forward to Third and the left lane taking a 90 degree turn north to Gay Street. How will traffic be affected when both lanes will take this sharp 90 degree turn especially given that large trucks utilize this route and, potentially, traffic will immediately hit a stop light at Fourth Street?
  • What traffic congestion, if any, should be anticipated by student and employee traffic from the west side via Second Street then to Gay Street then to Fourth Street then to Waller Street and thence to the SSU parking lot have upon traffic and pedestrian safety, right-of-ways and current parking and traffic?
  • The same question as regards traffic from the east side of town.
  • As regards the comment “the university is committed to being a good neighbor and working through all issues that arise:” a) Is the university financially committed to correcting these issues, b) How shall the university ascertain the validity of any issue and shall such process be accomplished in cooperation with the city, and c) Should traffic patterns change to the extent it negatively impacts the large learning facilities on Gallia Street (Notre Dame Elementary, Portsmouth Public Schools, Public Library), to what extent shall the university assist in countering such impact(s)?
  • Does the university anticipate a future need to close Fourth Street as well?
  • Finally, what program or process shall be established to monitor the effects of this street closure?

SSU Director of Facilities, Butch Kotcamp, told those present at the meeting the university has dealt with all the questions brought before it.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com.