Sunday, December 28, 2003

Pros and cons of medians in roadways

Fire response times affected

COLERAIN TWP. - The new concrete medians down the middle of Colerain Avenue are an accepted engineering device to improve safety and traffic flow.

They work by providing a barrier that separates opposing lanes of traffic. The medians also replace a center lane that used to allow cars traveling in either direction to stop before turning left. That kind of lane is so hazardous that it earned the nickname "suicide lane."

But the new medians are not universally loved.

Some drivers say they're a hazard, a roadway obstruction that can flip unwary vehicles.

Fire officials, too, say the medians can slow response times on the major north-south route in Colerain Township, which is the largest, most populated township in Ohio.

"Traffic no longer can move into the center lane when we're passing through," says Lt. Dave Witherby of the Colerain Township Fire Department. Instead, fire trucks must squeeze through two, usually congested, lanes as best they can. So far, fire crews have coped.

"We're adjusting. Depending on the location (of where we're headed) we try to change our routes," Witherby says.

Help is on the way - a new township traffic system that starts next year will recognize fire sirens and override traffic lights to give fire trucks or ambulances green lights all the way.

Reid Forgrave

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