ASHLAND – Mirrors could be the solution to traffic issues at a downtown intersection, according to a resident who spoke before the Ashland City Council last Thursday.
At the council’s regular meeting, Kim Cooper and City Council Member Jim Anderson proposed installing mirrors at the intersection of 16th and Silver streets to alleviate traffic problems.
Anderson said cars parked on the street at the Ashland Post Office and in front of Lee Sapp Ford obstruct a southbound driver’s ability to see traffic as they pull out onto Silver Street.
“You really have to eke out into that intersection,” said Anderson. “We’ve all done it.”
Cooper said drivers have to be in the crosswalk in order to see to the east.
“We drive it every day. It’s hard to see around there,” said Cooper, who lives in downtown Ashland with his wife, Lynn Cooper above his business, Cooper Studio and Gallery.
Lynn Cooper said the line of sight is more obstructed to the east than to the west.
“It’s worse to the east where the post office is,” she said.
Kim Cooper did say that there had only been one accident at the intersection in the nearly two decades that he and his wife have lived there. City Administrator Jessica Quady said Police Chief Joe Baudler confirmed that there have not been any accidents there in recent years.
Cooper suggested installing traffic mirrors on the light pole at the intersection so drivers can see cars coming down Silver Street. He said they would cost around $400.
City Attorney Mark Fahleson suggested the city council receive professional advice from the city’s engineer, JEO Consulting Group, about the issue. If city employees purchase the wrong type of mirror or install it incorrectly, the city could be held liable.
“I think it makes sense to consult with one,” Fahleson said.
Council Member Paul Gossin said he is not familiar with how traffic mirrors would work in a community like Ashland. Another concern is whether drivers will know how to use them.
“I worry people won’t be able to see them to use them,” added Council Member Matt Meyer.
Gossin asked Kim Cooper to show him examples of traffic mirrors.
“I don’t think that will be hard to do,” Kim Cooper said.
Gossin also asked if extending “no parking” zones would alleviate the problem. Mayor Rick Grauerholz also suggested restricting parking near the intersection to compact cars.
Anderson said he did not think parking restrictions are the answer because parking spots are at a premium in the downtown area.
“Parking is a problem in our community,” he said.
Another suggestion was creating a four-way stop at that intersection. Quady said the council discussed this a few years ago, and that a traffic study would have to be done first.
The issue had also been brought up by a resident during the public comment portion of a city council meeting in May 2016. No action was taken at that time.
The council agreed by consensus to consult an engineer about traffic mirrors.
In other action, the council passed resolutions declaring two pieces of property public nuisances.
The first property, 1909 Boyd Street, is owned by James Garman. This property had been declared a public nuisance by the city council in 2015. After the declaration, work was done to clean up the junk that blocked the alley and was piled around the yard.
However, the items have accumulated again, according to city officials.
The council set a date of June 5 for 100 percent abatement.
“I think that we should be as strong as we can because we’ve got to guarantee he’ll get it done,” Gossin said.
The second nuisance was declared at property owned by Mike Lesley. Lesley told the council that he has plans to remove the existing house and replace it with a modular home.
Lesley also stated he will remove some of the vehicles that have accumulated on his property.
The resolution stated that Lesley must give the council an update by June 6 on progress with the home and the removal of the vehicles.