Thursday, December 18, 2003

Residential stop signs may go

Township says some 3- and 4-way stops violate law

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - The four-way stop at Edgell Bennett's corner might be illegal by state standards, but he says it's needed.

"I don't want the signs taken down. People fly down the hill and go right through the stop sign," said Bennett, 73, who has lived at Kingsgate Way and Julie Marie Drive since 1977.

The intersection is one of many residential four-way and three-way stops that will likely be removed after a review early next year authorized by township trustees.

Ohio rules mandate that "stop signs should not be used for speed control.". Three- and four-way stops may only be posted at intersections with at least 300 vehicles per hour in any eight-hour period, a threshold most subdivision streets do not meet.

"This is a real sticky issue. There are a whole bunch of stop signs out there that probably shouldn't be there," admits Dave Gully, township administrator.

When a similar study was done during his tenure as Colerain Township administrator in the 1980s, "we took down over 900 stop signs," he says.

Gully requested that the township apply for a state highway safety grant for a $40,000 study of all multiple stops. After the study, some multiple stops likely will be reduced to two-way or one-way stops, "or no stop signs at all," he said.

The review was prompted by a resident's complaint about an illegal four-way stop at West Whitehall Circle and Senour Drive to Bob Murphy, township road superintendent. Police cannot enforce illegal stop signs, Murphy said.

Police Chief John Bruce said his officers learned the Kingsgate-Julie Marie four-way stop was illegal after losing a case in court.

"We've stopped enforcing it, but the signs are still there," Bruce said.

Officials know that removing four-way stops in subdivisions could be unpopular with residents, who want them for speed control. But a spokesman for the Butler County Engineer's Office said too many unwarranted stop signs result in motorists ignoring them, which has happened at Bennett's corner.

"The problem is that people just don't want to stop," Bennett said. "But I wouldn't hazard a guess what would happen if they take them down."


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