Several business owners in downtown New Carlisle oppose a plan to replacing traffic signals and a turn lane because it would lead to fewer parking spots.
The Ohio Department of Transportation and the city of New Carlisle have proposed to add new traffic signals on Main Street at the intersections of Lake Avenue and Jefferson Street. The plan also includes adding turn lanes.
ODOT representatives didn’t return calls seeking comment and the New Carlisle city manager was out of town.
But a city information sheet says the current traffic and crossing signals are outdated. Cables that support the signals require constant maintenance, it says, the lack of back plates on signals make them difficult to see and they are energy inefficient. Traffic often gets congested at Main and Jefferson streets because of turning cars, the info sheet says.
The old signals will be replaced by mast-arm poles and will have a protected/permissive left turn signal. They will also be vehicle-activated, according to the city information sheet, and programmed to signal timing. The new traffic light also will be connected so the signals can communicate.
The plan would eliminate about 30 parking spots on the street in order to make room for the turn lane.
The project would be paid for by a more than $650,000 grant from the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee. If the upgrades are more than the grant amount, the city would be responsible for the remainder.
The city and ODOT will hold an open house at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the New Carlisle Fire Station to allow residents and businesses to review and comment on the proposal.
Several stores downtown have “Save the Downtown, Keep our Parking Spaces” signs in their windows. That includes Sarah Trimbach, who owns World Threads in downtown New Carlisle. She was excited when she first heard about the proposed changes.
“That would be great because then that (would help the) traffic that kind of gets stuck there and can be a bit of a hazard,” Trimbach said.
Then she learned that the turning lane would take away street parking
“I’m totally against that because where on earth are our customers going to park,” Trimbach said. “Where are they going to go?”
Michael Maxwell, owns Arrowhead Tax Service in downtown New Carlisle. He’s also opposed to the plan because of the loss of on-street parking. The only alternative for his customers would be a public lot on Church Street, which he said some people might not like walking to, especially at night.
“And down that alley, cars just fly through there,” Maxwell said.
The city info sheet says it will add way-finding signs to the Church Street lot.
The proposed changes would hurt his business, Maxwell said.
“Having a lot of handicap and elderly and people with children and things like that, it’s going to affect them,” Maxwell said. “They are putting in turning lanes I don’t think are needed. I feel the lights maybe but not the turning lanes.”
New Carlisle City Councilman Ethan Reynolds is against the plan because he believe it will hurt downtown businesses. He hopes ODOT will listen at the upcoming meeting.
“If we get enough people there to say, ‘Hey, we don’t want this proposed plan,’ then they could change their course of action,” Reynolds said.
This would hurt more than the businesses, Trimbach said, it would hurt the town as a whole.
“If we don’t have the parking, we don’t have the customers, we don’t have the business, we don’t have money for the town to support itself,” Trimbach said.