By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth City Service Director Bill Beaumont said he or someone from the Service Department will be doing a car count on Scioto Trail in the vicinity of Bertha Avenue and George Street next week. The purpose is to determine whether there is a need for a traffic light at one of those intersections.
“Somebody has to physically sit there for 10 hours,” Beaumont said. “We borrowed a little black box from ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), and every time somebody comes by you have to flip a little switch.”
The lack of a light has been a neighborhood concern since a portion of Argonne Road was closed shortly after former Mayor Jane Murray took office in 2010. The street was vacated for use by King’s Daughters Medical Specialties, the decision for which occurred during the administration of former Mayor James Kalb. At the time, Kalb told area residents the city would revisit the problem once the road was closed to see if there was a need for a traffic light at one of those two intersections.
“He’s no longer mayor,” First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson said. “And every time we get a new Council or a new mayor, everything starts from scratch. And it’s not just this Council, it’s previous ones, they tend to ignore anything that has gone before them. Which is not the way things should be done, which is why I’m looking forward to having a city manager.”
Portsmouth voters voted to reinstate the Council/City Manager form of government, beginning in 2014.
“The need for a light there exists based on the fact that that community is much like an island,” Johnson said. “It is blocked off as far as access to U.S. 23, because of not having a light. And the traffic in the morning and afternoon is not only bad, but increasingly bad. The traffic just since I have moved here into my current home in June of 2009 has increased dramatically, especially truck traffic. I attribute that to just simply that truck business all along the river tends to come along U.S. 52 and U.S. 23.”
Johnson said the lack of a traffic light along that section of Scioto Trail (U.S. 23) presents a major problem not only through driving out of the Argonne Road, Bertha Avenue and George Street area, but since it is partially a business district, opposite the isolated area, people who walk to those businesses also have to cross the road, and there are no marked legal crossings between Kinney’s Lane and 27th Street. In fact, all along that area are “no crossing” signs.
“We had a light there, and when they started negotiating for King’s Daughters, they took our light out, and we were able to go down by the old General Hotel to get out onto the (Scioto) Trail” Argonne Road resident Jeanie Smith said. “When they started the construction, they closed that off, so we had no outlet. We have Spring (Lane) and Bertha, and both of those go right out onto the Trail up there by the (Gallia Street) Overpass light. Then, up here at Bertha is where the school bus stops. And they’ve got the (Four Keys) Hotel there. They’ve got Exsell (Realty) there, plus the construction company. Then, there are all of the trailer parks down on Bertha Avenue. You can’t back your car out onto Scioto Trail. You have to sit there and wait and wait and wait to get out onto the Trail.”
Smith said the intersection that leads to the Overpass is dangerous for children crossing over to the area of several fast food restaurants.
Beaumont said the cost of a traffic light at Bertha Avenue would be about $130,000 to $140,000.
“The reason is that you are going to have to have a set of cross arms going north and south, and you’re going to have to have another set of cross arms and lights on Bertha itself,” Beaumont said. “If we put one up at George, it will be right at about $80,000.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.