Neighbors worry about city's plan to remove traffic light in northeast Columbus

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When does a traffic light become a safety hazard, rather than a help?

That's the debate underway in a northeast Columbus neighborhood, as the city considers removing a traffic signal that neighbors say should stay.

Alden Coleman has lived at his home on the corner of Brentnell and Woodward before it even was a corner.

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He's seen many changes in those 60 years and the latest one has him worried.

"It's a dangerous corner," he said. "I worry about people."

Yellow signs were posted last month to alert drivers that the traffic lights at the intersection are set to be removed.

"Brentnell and Woodward was a signal that was found to no longer meet the federal warrants," said Mike Liggett with the Columbus Department of Public Service.

He says this was found during a several-years-long, city-wide signal upgrade.

"The Federal Highway Administration, they have these nine warrants for traffic signals that cities have to follow. If cities do not follow these warrants, that can affect some of our federal funds, which are very critical to large cities like Columbus," Liggett said. "Traffic signal warrants are a very important thing to follow because it does affect the safety of an area. A signal that is not warranted can actually be a safety detriment."

Three years of crash data provided by the city found of nine accidents at the intersection, four were rear-end collisions.

"That's usually one of the issues that says the signal probably should not be here. It's causing these accidents, it's not preventing them," Liggett said.

"They need to take another look at how they're assessing people's problems around here. What we've got is a safety issue," said neighbor Gary Davis.

He and Coleman say the statistics don't tell the whole story.

"We've got too many kids out here walking to school, getting off the bus. We need a light for safety," Davis said. "What we're really talking about out here is people's lives."

"I say change your data and get this right," Coleman said. "Because it's a mistake to take that light away."

The city says while the light is set for removal, this is not a done deal.

They still want neighbors to call the 311 city service hotline at (614) 645-3111 with what they're seeing.

That feedback will be evaluated by the city's traffic management team

Two other Columbus traffic lights recommended for removal are at the intersections of Thurman and Jaeger in German Village and Frebis and Champion on the southeast side.

Those intersections are also in the middle of a 90-day watch period.