Neighbors: Intersection Ignored

WHEELING – Two mothers told Wheeling Traffic Commission members they’re fed up with drivers routinely ignoring a stop sign just yards from the park where their children play.

During the commission’s meeting Thursday, Clator residents Kim Fernatt and Jamie O’Hare said the dozens of youngsters who live in their neighborhood shouldn’t have to dodge careless drivers while walking to and from the playground at the intersection of Diamond and Flynn avenues.

Slightly more than half the 148 vehicles they observed during 20 approximately half-hour intervals since late March ran the stop sign at that intersection, they said. They also showed commission members a roughly 90-second video in which numerous vehicles drive right through the intersection, most without even slowing down.

A few vehicles appeared on the video more than once. And in one clip, a sport utility vehicle attempted to breeze past the sign, stopping in the middle of the intersection only when the driver noticed two children crossing the street.

“If something isn’t done, one of our children could be hurt or worse,” Fernatt said.

Fernatt suggested installing speed bumps near the intersection, but Wheeling Operations Superintendent Tim Birch said that would go against a longstanding city policy. He said speed bumps tend to damage city vehicles and cause problems for paramedics trying to treat patients in a moving ambulance.

“I understand you’re concerned about truck damage. I’m concerned about child damage,” O’Hare said.

Birch said he shares the mothers’ concern, but he worries installing a speed bump would open the door for a flood of similar requests.

“If we start on your street, it’s not going to end. … I only have a budget that’s so big,” he said.

Commission member Chris Hamm suggested the pair try to organize a neighborhood meeting to raise awareness of the issue. But he acknowledged that without consequences – namely, traffic citations – the problem is likely to persist.

Fernatt said she’s called police to ask for a cruiser to monitor the situation, and her request was denied. She and O’Hare spoke privately with Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball after the meeting.

Commission members also asked Birch to paint white stop bars on Diamond Avenue to reinforce the point. They also commended Fernatt and O’Hare for “doing their homework” before bringing the issue before the commission.

In other business, commission members approved a request for parking at the north end of Water Street near the newly reopened Depot Bikery eatery at Heritage Port. They approved recommending council establish metered parking on the east side of the street in place of a commercial loading zone that had served the former Reichart’s Furniture, as well as lift the no-parking restriction along the west side.

Birch said he’d look into installing meters on the west side as well, but he wasn’t sure if it would be possible because of a 220-foot concrete wall that separates the proposed parking area from the bike trail.

An initial request from Wheeling-Ohio County Rails to Trails Manager R. “Scat” Scatterday had been for parking on Water Street all the way to 11th Street, but parking on the east side will not extend that far north because Fire Chief Larry Helms said that would make the area too tight for his trucks to navigate.