Residents petition for safer road

Emily Andrews

The Middlebury Road bridge reopened last December after years of waiting and the effects are causing some concern in the neighborhood.

Speeding on Middlebury Road and failure to stop at stop signs have been upsetting residents.

“Since they opened the bridge up, it’s become dangerous,” Middlebury Road resident Vito Matarrese said. “Traffic goes pretty fast.”

Kent Police Lt. Jayme Cole said he thinks people speed because they think they can get away with it.

“People speed because they think they can,” Cole said. “There’s not a lot of traffic, so people feel inclined to do it.”

Ward 2 Council Member Carrie Gavriloff said she knows residents are concerned and has had meetings with residents of the area about the issue.

“I hear quite often from residents who see people speeding and blowing through the stop signs,” Gavriloff said. “Near misses don’t get reported, and there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood.”

Kent Police Officer Eric Dreger said he covers the area and the police department gets complaints about the road.

“We cover all the roads during our shift,” Dreger said. “We treat it like other areas but give it a little special attention. But we’re not always there. We use the rate of accidents to go and patrol. Everyone in town is concerned with people speeding on their road. We mainly concentrate on where accidents are likely to happen, such as Main Street or State Rt. 261.”

Ronnie Jones, who lives on Middlebury Road, said he was hit by a car’s mirror while jogging.

“I got hit on the road,” Jones said. “I was jogging against the traffic and the cars went around. But one car didn’t, and its side mirror hit my hand.”

Two sets of stop signs were placed at different points on Middlebury Road, and residents said they haven’t helped much.

“People forget about the stop signs because they haven’t been there that long,” said. Middlebury Road resident Lucille Crul. “There has been pretty heavy traffic since the bridge opened up.”

The Kent Traffic Calming Committee is dealing with the speeding issue on Middlebury Road. Development Engineer Jennifer Barone said when the committee gets complaints from residents, it has a public meeting where it gives the residents an idea of what it can do to help. Now, residents of Middlebury Road are attempting to get a petition with 60 percent of the area’s population that will say that the road is a problem. After the petition is completed, the Traffic Calming Committee can do a study of the area to see if the city will let it take some measures such as speed bumps, speed cushions or narrowing the road to reduce speeding.

“We try to let the neighborhood decide the measures it would like to take,” Barone said. “We don’t want to spend the money to put speed bumps down and have the neighborhood start complaining about the noise cars make when they go over it and have to remove them.”

Kent City Council just approved property to be converted to city right of way near Middlebury Road Bridge that will let the city straighten the approaches to the bridge to hopefully improve traffic safety.

The next Ward 2 meeting is Sept. 25 at the Shelter House on Middlebury Road.

Click here for a map of Middlebury Road and its stop signs.

Contact news correspondent Emily Andrews at [email protected].