The Oxford City Council unanimously passed a resolution approving an application for a Transportation, Community and System Preservation (TSP) grant on behalf of Miami University from the state of Ohio during its regular meeting Jan. 3.
The resolution allows funding for Miami to improve public safety on city streets and focused on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the corners of U.S. Route 27 and Spring Street, and Maple and Spring streets.
The intersection at U.S. Route 27 was especially dangerous in 2011. On Dec. 7, three separate accidents occured on Miami’s campus. One woman obtained such injuries that required her to be flown to the closest local hospital to receive urgent care.
The application was a result of a university-sponsored campus circulation master plan, according to Senior Project Architect and Manager John Seibert. With the consultation of Baker Engineering, Seibert and a university project committee focused on improving pedestrian safety on campus. More specifically, the committee focused on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the corners of U.S. Route 27 and Spring Street, and Maple and Spring streets.
Since the grant is through the federal government, Miami’s application had to be supported and submitted by the local government, Seibert said. With the passage of this resolution, Oxford is now the co-sponsor of the grant.
“We believe that resignalization of traffic lights at Spring St. and Patterson Ave. is plausible,” Seibert said. “We are absolutely happy that the resolution was passed, and if we get the funds, we will do due diligence on the specific planning of the project.”
The committee will be notified March 31 to be told they were granted the funds by the federal government.
The deadline for the federal grant was Jan. 6, which caused much discussion at the meeting. Also, the specifics of the plan were not fully understood by the council.
The passage of this resolution is only a one-time approval for the city manager to sign and sponsor the grant, according to Oxford Mayor Richard Keebler. This means that even if the grant is approved, it is not guaranteed the city will accept it.
“My concern wasn’t about the overall grant, but the specifics that were listed in the application,” Keebler said.
The main issue the city council had was that they were approving a grant before understanding and approving each detail within it.
“We had the cart before the horse,” Keebler said.
The resolution passed unanimously because, after further discussion, the city council agreed to sponsor it but insisted on reviewing and revising it before they accept it if indeed the federal government awards it to them.
“We need to find what is best for the community, which is the city and Miami as a whole, and we haven’t had the opportunity to see the project as a whole but the resolution passed because it had in there time for further investigation and development,” Keebler said.
On the issue of dangerous vehicle and pedestrian traffic listed in the committee’s master plan, Keebler said that stoplights would be the best alternative to the current situation.
“Stop signs for the most part might help pedestrian safety but they are a major impediment for flowing traffic,” Keebler said. “Stoplights do a much better job in both, so I want to see discussion on that particular item.”
The council also unanimously passed a resolution creating residential permit parking on Rose Avenue between Poplar Street and Campus Avenue. The permit parking allows for city residents to have clearer streets to improve parking, especially with Rose Avenue close to campus.