Good for Findlay City Councilman Jeff Wobser for slowing down the Blanchard Street/Lincoln Street construction project — at least for now.
Wobser said Tuesday (when the project was given its first reading at the City Council meeting) that he intends to add an amendment to legislation that would address safety at the intersection of Blanchard and Sandusky streets. Considering that location had been the site of 50 accidents between 2015-17, his concern is warranted.
If nothing else, the amendment should expand the discussion about the project before council gives a second reading on what has arguably been a controversial subject.
Few can argue that Blanchard Street doesn’t need improvements. But some contend the proposal favored by the administration and some council members that would narrow and add bike lanes to Blanchard and make the northside sidewalk on Lincoln Street “multipurpose” goes too far.
It’s hard to gauge the extent of the opposition to the preferred plan, but Wobser, as an at-large councilman, has apparently heard from constituents. Majority rules, but if ever there was a public concern worthy of compromise, it may be this one. Wobser’s willingness to consider alternatives is a positive development, regardless of where the project goes from here.
It was public opposition that sent planners back to the drawing board, and seven options have emerged, with the city’s cost share varying from $238,000 for the current plan to $2.7 million for a plan that would update, but basically keep the current four-lane configuration on Blanchard as is. The cost differences from option to option are due to how Ohio Department of Transportation safety funds and a grant are applied to the project.
As the discussion continues on how far to go with bike trails on Blanchard and Lincoln streets, one thing appears clear: Findlay is split on how far to go to accommodate bicyclists.
While Blanchard Street may not be the best place to test dedicated bike lanes, it may be, at least, suitable for shared lanes.
Shared lanes, which are referred to as “sharrow lanes” on three of the project options, would be marked with painted bike symbols and streets would be posted with signs. (The lane markings would be similar to those now present on North Cory Street.)
While Wobser’s amendment may only address the Sandusky and Blanchard intersection, it appears similar to “Option 3B,” which would also reconfigure lanes at other intersections on Blanchard. It would also mark outside lanes of that street as shared, but not separate, bike lanes. That option would require local funding of $1.1 million.
Whatever option is eventually selected for the project, the decision shouldn’t be just about how much money it’s going to cost taxpayers, but to make city streets as navigable and as safe as possible for all who use them.