LISBON - Village Council is proceeding with plans to close a portion of Saltwell Road during the week of the Columbiana County Fair.
Council agreed to close the road during a special meeting on Friday after being asked to do so by the county fair board, which is concerned about the safety of fair-goers crossing the road to get to the fairgrounds.
The section is the eastern portion of Saltwell Road from state Route 164 to Applegrove Apartments, with Center Township trustees already agreeing to close the portion of the road that lies within the township.
This means the only access to county municipal court, the county government services building, the post office and other agencies located on that section of Saltwell Road would be from state Route 45/North Market Street in Lisbon. This means employees in those offices coming from the east and south would have to drive through town to get to work instead of the more direct route of Saltwell Road.
Attending the meeting was county Department of Job and Family Services Director Eileen Dray-Bardon, whose 120-employee agency is the chief tenant in the government services building. Dray-Bardon said her workers could put up with the inconvenience for a week but she was more concerned about the traffic problems created by rerouting traffic through Lisbon.
"Traffic gets pretty crazy in town anyway" under normal circumstances, she said.
Dray-Bardon suggested leaving the road open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the work week and close it after 5 p.m. and during the weekend of the fair. "Most of the traffic at the fair is evenings and weekends," she said.
Mayor Dan Bing said police Chief Mike Abraham was also concerned about the potential traffic problems created by closing a portion of Saltwell Road and suggested it be closed before and after work hours.
The fair has campgrounds and parking on both sides of Saltwell Road and operates a shuttle to transport people from those areas to the fair. Officials reported a shuttle was struck by a car last year, and they are concerned it is only a matter of time before someone gets struck crossing the road.
"It is a safety issue and I understand there will be an inconvenience," said fair official John Wolfe, who attended Friday's meeting. He said the situation demands action. "We don't want a catastrophic accident up there."
Councilman Tom Darcy worked the fair last year, and he said the traffic-pedestrian situation is an accident waiting to happen. He also pointed out a lot of the traffic coming from the north and east will be diverted along Adams Road, which should help alleviate congestion in Lisbon.
Councilman Jeff Snyder suggested they do as the fair board requested. "Let's try one year and see what problems we have, and then we can tweak it," he said.
Which is what council decided to do.