Since its founding in 2008, Friends of the Little Miami State Park (FLMSP) has made trail safety its most important focus. Indeed, the group was formed in response to a safety issue; following several accidents, Friends raised funds and paved the algae covered, slippery wooden bridges. And now, the group is coalescing around a major safety issue: road crossings.
At its September 12 meeting, the FLMSP board approved an initiative to improve intersection safety through the marking of crossings in phase 1 and through the posting of trail crossing signs to alert drivers in phase 2 (see example below). In addition, Friends will address sight lines at intersections by trimming brush to allow for a 45-degree view of the road in either direction.
FLMSP volunteers Don Mills and Bruce Cortright conducted an extensive survey of the trail, documenting 50 intersections recognized by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Plans call for the intersections to be marked with painted “ladders” (see illustration). The paint to be used is embedded with tiny glass beads, making it reflective so that markings will be highly visible both day and night. Unlike other similar solutions (e.g., reflective plastic strips), the paint will stand up to traffic ranging from cars to snow plows.
While the trail itself is the jurisdiction of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), intersections are controlled by local jurisdictions (e.g., 26 of the 50 by Warren County). Friends has been coordinating with these local jurisdictions and some have already begun to act. Several intersections, including OH-126 near Miamiville, Old 3C near Fosters and OH-350 near Fort Ancient have already been marked. The jurisdictions have asked FLMSP to provide some of the funding required for marking activities. To learn how one grateful trail user has led the funding effort, and to learn how you can help, click here.
Friends is pursuing this initiative to improve road crossings because it greatly values the safety of trail users. No amount of marking, signage or other approaches, however, can guarantee everyone’s safety. Each of us must continue to make wise decisions when crossing intersections and when otherwise enjoying our beautiful trail.
by Erick Wikum