Speed Limit Reduction for W. Lorain St. Approved


Erin Koo

Students often cross the street between the Science Center and Wilder Hall.

This past week, the Ohio Department of Transportation approved the City of Oberlin’s request for a speed limit reduction along West Lorain Street, a high traffic state route, between North Park Street and Cedar Street. The speed limit will be decreased from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour. At the recent Feb. 21 City Council meeting, the City of Oberlin additionally recommended a crosswalk across West Lorain Street, between Woodland and Professor Streets.

Oberlin College students frequently cross West Lorain Street in areas without a designated crosswalk.

“The City Administration, Oberlin College, and others have been concerned about the safety of pedestrians in this convenient and commonly used crossing area linking north and south campus,” the City Council noted. “Various measures have been employed over the years to alert pedestrians  to the potential hazard of crossing the state highway outside of a marked crosswalk.”

On Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, an Oberlin resident reported that they almost struck a student who was crossing West Lorain Street illegally by the Science Center.

College first-year Neomi Abrahamson feels that students should be cautious when crossing West Lorain Street.

“Cars have the right of way, so you shouldn’t be crossing expecting them to stop for you,” Abrahamson said.

In July 2021, the City of Oberlin contracted GPD Group, an Akron-based engineering firm, to collect data concerning speed limits along the stretch of West Lorain Street, which met ODOT criteria for a “high presence of vulnerable road users.” After submitting data about vehicle speeds, Jeremy Adato, a traffic engineer with ODOT District 3, responded to the study.

“I understand the City is requesting a speed limit reduction to 25 miles per hour, but I do not think we can justify that,” Adato said. “However, we do feel that a speed limit reduction to 30 miles per hour is justified and appropriate for the entire study section.”

Prior to the Feb. 21 board meeting, Oberlin Police Chief Ryan Warfield signed an enforcement concurrence form for the new speed limit. The cost of adding new signs denoting the 30-mph speed limit and replacing existing signage is modest — no more than a few hundred dollars.

The recommended a crosswalk would link North and South Campus between Wilder Hall and the Science Center. It would be a “mid-block” crosswalk due to its location in the middle of a block near West Lorain Street.

City Manager Rob Hillard spoke to the Review about the potential for a new crosswalk.

“Crosswalks are designed based on speed in the environment that is in the area,” Hillard said. “So, if you reduce the speed, then certain traffic design considerations could be made for the crosswalk. Slower speeds create different types of solutions for a potential crosswalk.”

Oberlin Public Works met with Joe Comar, Oberlin College director of capital improvements and deputy chief facilities officer, and a member of the Facilities Planning and Construction office. The College did not make an immediate financial commitment toward a mid-block crosswalk. According to the proposal, the College noted that the crosswalk could possibly be incorporated into Phase III of the Sustainable Infrastructure Project.

Hillard commented on the projected timeline for the creation of a potential crosswalk.

“Our hope would be that it’s something that could get done by the beginning of next school year,” Hillard said. “That would depend on a lot of factors, including equipment purchases, approvals through the Ohio Department of Transportation, and other inputs as we’re making design considerations.”