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Project unfinished, EP’s frustration grows

Morning Journal/Scott Lendak East Palestine officials say ODOT’s project to replace the traffic lights at Rebecca and Market has caused a safety hazard, as the sidewalk is completely blocked off.

EAST PALESTINE — The village planned a project to replace the traffic lights at the intersection of Rebecca and Market Street over a year ago due to the lights having been hit two or three times during the past few years.

The project, which was supposed to begin in January, began in August when ODOT installed new traffic light arms and hung the traffic lights higher over the intersection. However, since then, the village has received many complaints about one of the traffic light arms blocking the entire sidewalk.

On behalf of council, village manager Mark McTrustry sent an email to ODOT, laying out their frustrations. At the forefront of the email was McTrustry’s concern for the safety of handicapped residents.

“A resident of the village has recently had a fall at the blocked sidewalk, and the potential for litigation increases each day that the project is left unfinished,” McTrustry said in the email. “Closing one corner does not eliminate the fact that two more of the four corners are impassable by residents that use wheelchairs or require open sidewalks due to mobility issues.”

McTrustry believes that the disabled parking spot is rendered useless, as the sidewalk is blocked off where a handicapped person would be exiting the vehicle.

Even if they moved the spot in front of Dollar General, which is what ODOT suggested, the handicapped individuals would be opening their vehicle doors into oncoming traffic. This would cause potential injury or the slowing down of traffic.

“My concern still stands,” McTrustry said. “Let’s say someone has a cane. They have to get out of the vehicle, get their cane and all of a sudden they’re right in the flow of traffic.”

Faust Construction is doing the concrete work and Cornerstone Electric is doing the electric work. McTrustry said the lack of communication is coming from ODOT.

“There’s been no communication on when the sidewalks are going to closed up and safe for our residents,” McTrustry said. “I’m really frustrated about this one. We have a lot of older folks in the community, and I would really hate to see something happen. There’s no excuse, in my mind.”

slendak@mojonews.com

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