By Carol McIntire
December 11, 2012
Over the past year, motorists have had to adjust their driving speeds as they enter and exit the village of Carrollton on state highways.
Speed limits have been decreased by the Ohio Department of Transportation in some areas and the village of Carrollton posted speed limit signs in areas that were previously unmarked.
Ohio Revised Code (ORC) sets speed limits within municipal corporations on state highways, however the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has the ability to alter them when an engineering study determines they do not fit road and traffic conditions.
Chris Varcolla, a traffic engineer at ODOT District 11, which encompasses Carroll County, said that is the case with State Route (SR) 9 on the north side of Carrollton.
“Speed limits can only be reduced by ODOT after an engineering study is completed and a field review has been done,” Varcolla told The Free Press Standard (FPS), adding the study is normally completed at the expense of the village or municipality.
Carrollton Village Administrator Denny Roudebush said the west side of SR 9 lies within the corporation limits as far north as the driveway that separates Hall Machine Shop and Gotch and Company. The east side is not the same. The Carroll County Fairgrounds, DLH, Kensington Greene and the ODOT garage are not in the corporation. However, Roudebush explained Carroll Meadows Golf Course and the housing allotment that accompanies it, are within the corporation limits, which leaves a rather unusual situation.
Varcolla said ODOT agreed to conduct a traffic study on SR 9 north of the village at no cost to the village. “Since half the road was within the corporation limits and half was not, we agreed to do the study at no cost to the village,” he stated. “We conducted a speed check in the area and observed the speed of traffic. Those statistics, along with the amount of development in the area and the crash history, were grounds to reduce the speed limit in that area.”
As a result, the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 35 miles per hour (MPH) from the corporation limit at the south edge of the fairgrounds to Fairway Dr. (the entrance to Carroll Meadows) earlier this year. Motorists traveling south on SR 9 toward the village of Carrollton, will see signs reducing the speed limit much farther north. ODOT reduced the speed limit outside the corporation limit from 55 to 45 MPH over a mile north of the corporation limit. Varcolla said the development in the area warranted the reduction in speed.
Roudebush and Carrollton Mayor Frank Leghart said the situation on SR 43 (Canton Rd.) on the north end of Carrollton is much different.
The corporation limit is located just south of Bacon Rd. near the entrance to a business known as Brace’s on both sides of the state highway.
Roudebush and Leghart said they asked ODOT to conduct a traffic study on the state route due to increased traffic on the roadway and the amount of vehicles turning into businesses along the road.
“ODOT told us we would have to pay for the study at a cost of about $6,000,” Leghart said. “We didn’t know where we were going to find that kind of money to pay for a traffic study.”
Since the corporation limit is located near Bacon Rd., Mayor Leghart said he believed the speed limit was 35 MPH within the corporation, so he had village employees move the 35 MPH speed limit sign to coincide with the corporation limit and to enforce the speed limit.
“We believed we had the authority to move the speed limit sign,” Leghart told the FPS. “We moved it to the exact location of the corporation limit sign.”
As a result of the village’s action, the Carrollton Police Department began writing tickets to motorists who exceeded the speed limit in June 2012.
ODOT officials confirmed for the FPS that they were asked by village officials to conduct a traffic study and the village was told the study must be paid for by the village. ODOT officials also said they asked village officials to check with the village solicitor before moving any signs.
ODOT officials then ordered the village to move the 35 MPH sign south on SR 43 to near the entrance to the Dollar General Market, saying a previous traffic study did not provide for the speed limit in that area to be reduced to a 35 MPH limit, but did warrant a 50 MPH zone.
As a result of the actions by the village and ODOT, Municipal Court Judge Gary Willen vacated the speeding convictions of 52 individuals charged with speeding in that area after June 2012.
“The court forwarded a judgment entry in each case to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles stating the convictions and any driving points assessed be removed from the individual’s record,” Willen said. “We also contacted the state treasurer’s office to secure a refund from the state’s share of fines and costs previously paid. Refund checks were issued to the individuals.”
Rouebush noted the speed limit for motorists traveling north on Canton Rd. out of the village remains 35 MPH until they reach the corporation limit near the entrance to Brace’s. Once out of the corporation limit, it immediately becomes 55 MPH.
Roudebush said the village also erected a corporation and speed limit sign on SR 39 east toward Dellroy. The north side of SR 39 is in the corporation limit until it reaches the intersection of Fisherman Rd., thus the 35 MPH speed limit is in force until that point. The corporation limit on the south side of SR 39 heading into the village begins near the intersection of the driveway to the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity complex.
“Our concern is for motorists on the streets in the village of Carrollton,” Roudebush said. “We are working to make sure the speed limits are safe for all drivers.”