Hudson Council looks to improve safety issues at railroad underpass

$375,000 project would put in stop signs, sidewalk

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
A motorist waits their turn to cross under the railroad bridge on Owen Brown Street, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in Hudson, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

HUDSON — City leaders on Tuesday discussed a project designed to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians at the Owen Brown Street railroad underpass.

Council member Chris Foster (Ward 2) last month requested that city officials make the  railroad underpass issue a high priority in the new year.

"That underpass has been a source of problems for [the] Atterbury [and] Brentwood area for some time," said Foster. "…Right now, two cars will try and jam themselves right under that intersection and if there's somebody under there, there's no room."

While it is now a two-way street, Council member Hal DeSaussure (at-large) noted typically only one car travels under the underpass at a time, with one motorist stopping to allow the car from the opposite direction to travel through.

Assistant City Manager Thom Sheridan said Owen Brown Street is 19 feet wide, but narrows to 15 feet in width at the railroad underpass. Roads in the city are typically about 22 to 27 feet wide. About 3,400 vehicles travel on Owen Brown each day, while approximately 20 pedestrians and 20 cyclists travel under the underpass each day. There were six side-swipe crashes at the underpass between 2011 and 2019, said Sheridan.

Sheridan said council approved spending $375,000 on the Owen Brown Street underpass project this year, with about $75,000 going toward design costs. 

For the project, Sheridan said the city is looking to put in a sidewalk starting at Lennox Road and running down the south side of Owen Brown. He noted a retaining wall would need to go in due to a topography issue with an apartment complex. 

"[The sidewalk] would move out into the roadway [and] go underneath the underpass," said Sheridan. "It would take up approximately 5 feet with a railing…[then it would run] along the south side of the former Windstream building."

As part of the project, a stop sign would be put in on each side of the underpass.

Sheridan said city staff will soon send out requests for proposals, with the goal of hiring a consultant in March, doing design work in the summer, and hopefully begin construction by early fall.

Though it's not part of what is planned now, Sheridan said he wants to examine the possibility of using adaptive traffic signals in this area.

"I'm really happy this project is going forward," said DeSaussure.

DeSaussure said he did not think a traffic signal was needed at the underpass because he felt "traffic alternates [going under the underpass] pretty well."

If city officials later determine that a signal is needed, DeSaussure suggested a developer may be willing to pay for an adaptive signal.

Foster emphasized that he did not want to "slow the traffic down dramatically with a stop light," and said he favored putting in stop signs, as well as signage telling motorists that only one car at a time can go through the underpass.

"My concern is pedestrian and cyclist safety under there," said Foster, who noted he believed that daily pedestrians and cyclists numbers will "double or triple" once the sidewalk is put in.

Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) noted while stop signs were not his "favorite solution" to the issue, he thought the planned project was a "good budget solution."

"Let's try it out," said Sutton. "Let's try the stop signs…let's try something simple and see if we can make it work."

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.