As Solon City Council prepares to send a letter to the Ohio Department of Transportation asking to remove the new traffic barriers on U.S. 422, the city's top safety officials say they don't yet know if the barriers will make the highway more dangerous.
During Wednesday's safety committee meeting, Police Chief Chris Viland and Fire Chief Bill Shaw both said that there is a chance the barriers -- only a few feet away from the inside lanes of U.S. 422 -- will make the highway more dangerous.
But they don't know yet.
"Certainly the problem has been solved, but will it create other issues?" Shaw said. "We’ll have to wait and see."
Shaw was one of the officials who first requested a barrier be built along the highway to prevent cars from crossing the grassy median and causing head-on collisions.
But the city envisioned a barrier in the middle of the median, not right along the inside lanes. Now city council officials are concerned that the barriers will cause safety problems since cars will not be able to pull off on that side. Last week, city council voted to send a letter to the state asking the barriers be removed.
Viland said there are similar barriers along other stretches of highway in Northeast Ohio. He said he sees the possibility the barriers could make the highway less safe, but they will have to observe closely before making that decision.
Councilman Bill Russo, who chairs the safety committee, was out of town when city council decided to send the letter. He said he's worried it will send the wrong message to ODOT and make the relationship messy.
"If we are going to object, we should have objected well in advance of them completing the project," Russo said. "At this point, I think it will create more negative issues down the road."
Councilman Rick Bell said he felt the matter should be discussed by the full council and not at the safety committee, since the council already voted on the matter.
Russo asked that Traffic Engineer Kevin Westbrooks help the city clerk craft the letter to ODOT.
Whether ODOT listens is another story.
"Whether or not it's in our best interest to ask them, I'm not sure if they will listen anyways," Viland said.