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Niles tables traffic signal removal

NILES — After a lengthy discussion and hearing from residents and police officers, city council voted 4-3 to table for review any action on the removal of the traffic signal at Carnegie and Robbins avenues.

Council members Jimmy Julian, Michael Lastic, Barry Profato and Sheri Smith voted to table the resolution while council members Al Cantola, Linda Marchese and Doug Sollitto voted against.

A motion added to the agenda was to return the traffic light — which now blinks yellow on Robbins and red on Carnegie — to an active light while an additional traffic study is done.

More than 35 people, including several police officers, attended the meeting.

Traffic officer Shawn Crank said after studies were done, including one earlier this year, it was determined the traffic light at Carnegie and Robbins no longer is needed and should have been removed years ago.

“That light being there is not warranted under any circumstance, according to engineering studies,” he said.

Crank said because of the traffic light that requires people to stop, many motorists cut through side streets such as Bonnie Brae, Hartzell, Belle Terre, West, Belmont and Summit, often speeding to avoid it.

He said it is important to keep motorists on the main routes through the city, such as Robbins and Vienna avenues.

Crank said he has spoken to the Niles City Schools transportation department and the bus driver on that route said since the flashing light has been up, there have been no violations.

Crank said other bus stops along Robbins have no lights such as Cleveland, Poplar and Fairview and have had no issues.

He said review of traffic accidents in the past five years showed 10 crashes at the Carnegie and Robbins intersections, and it is mostly cars “rear ending” other stopped vehicles. He said this is the most of any intersection.

Crank said other intersections along Robbins with no lights have had three or fewer accidents in the past five years.

Sollitto said he has received calls from residents concerned about the light’s removal, which will make it harder to get in and out of their driveways and make left turns onto Robbins.

“We represent the citizens of the community and are concerned for their safety. They have genuine concerns and that is why we are looking at this. They don’t want their residential area to become like a freeway with speeding vehicles,” Sollitto said.

Sollitto said the study this year was done on a Tuesday in February, but it should have been done in the summer on a Friday.

“The traffic signals can create more problems. You could have a traffic study done on Black Friday and it still would not warrant a light there,” Crank said.

Cantola suggested keeping the light and having it operate normally during regular day hours when buses are picking and up and dropping off children and then go to blinking in the evening and overnight.

Marchese said the issue needs to be discussed further to make sure “the city is going the right way” to protect the residents.

“This is an emotional issue. We need to find some way to compromise on this for a solution,” she said.

Resident Marlene Hazlett said it took her eight minutes to turn left off Carnegie onto Robbins.

“People are speeding. I would like to see council make the right decision,” she said.

Resident Jeannette Jackson said many vehicles speed on Robbins coming from McKinley Heights.

Resident Kelly Glenn said West Federal Street also has speeders noting a woman was killed recently walking acoss the road. Glenn said, “Whenever a road is paved it becomes the newest race course in the city.”

Officials said they are aware a developer is planning to put up 12 or more homes in the area, which will mean more traffic and concern about getting onto Robbins Avenue from the side streets.

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