By DENISE GRANT
Tuesday night’s meeting of Findlay City Council was probably a good gauge of things to come at today’s public meeting about proposed changes to Blanchard and Lincoln streets.
The city will hold an “open house public meeting” to provide information on its plans for Blanchard and Lincoln streets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. today at the Findlay Municipal Building, 318 Dorney Plaza. The public will be able to ask questions either orally or via comment sheet.
Hancock Health Commissioner Karim Baroudi spoke Tuesday in favor of the changes, which would bring more bike paths to the city.
Baroudi said health officials spoke out in favor of the project in 2016, and thought it was going to proceed. He said the health department has applied for grants, citing the city’s continued bike path expansion as part of the effort to improve the community’s health.
Hancock Public Health released a 2018 health survey in May that showed 72 percent of Findlay and Hancock County residents are overweight or obese.
Baroudi is concerned that the health department’s grant money could be in jeopardy should the city fail to follow through with the bike path plans.
On Lincoln Street, a shared-use path would replace the sidewalk on the north side of Lincoln from South Cory to Blanchard streets.
On Blanchard Street, the northbound and southbound curb lanes from Sixth Street to Center Street would be converted into 5-foot-wide bike lanes. This part of Blanchard Street would be reduced to a three-lane road for motorists: one northbound lane, one southbound lane and a center turn lane.
The new configuration would end at Center Street. The Courier has incorrectly reported that the lane reduction and bike paths would extend to Tiffin Avenue.
Construction is planned for the spring.
Two Findlay residents, Scott Fenimore, 420 Avondale Road, and Renee Leguire, 148 Larkins St., both spoke in opposition to the plans Tuesday, saying the lane reductions will back up traffic and inconvenience thousands of motorists who use the street regularly.
“For what, one bicyclist?” Fenimore said.
Councilman Tom Shindledecker, R-at-large, said he’s opposed to the Blanchard Street project due to the level of public opposition alone.
However, Councilman Tim Watson, R-7, said dedicated left-turn lanes would improve traffic flow on Blanchard Street and make it safer, according to a traffic study conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
According to a traffic and safety study commissioned by the city in 2018, adding a dedicated left-turn lane to Blanchard Street would increase safety at 17 intersections along the street, and five intersections would have traffic lights and left-turn signals.
The safety study is available online for public review on the city’s website at www.findlayohio.com
Findlay received a $1.25 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the bike paths, and an additional $1.5 million safety grant from ODOT to reconfigure Blanchard Street, with the goal of making it safer.
Mayor Christina Muryn has said that altering the plans could jeopardize the city’s grant money for the project.
Public comment on the project is still being collected by ODOT. To make a comment on the Lincoln and Blanchard street projects, citizens can mail comments to the City of Findlay, Engineering Department, 318 Dorney Plaza, Room 304, Findlay, Ohio 45840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A digital copy of the comment sheet can be filled out on the city’s website at www.findlayohio.com/community-input. The final date for submission of comments is Sept. 6.
Comments will also be taken at today’s public meeting.