Avon Lake city officials have taken a first step in possibly curbing animal-vehicle crashes in the city, listening to a presentation by Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) representatives Aug. 21.
NOACA Senior Transportation Planner Sara Byrnes Maier and Transportation Engineer Sahar Tawfiq broke down crashes involving deer in the city by time of day, light, month and location of the crashes, and provided information on mitigation options if the city applied for, and was accepted, into a NOACA pilot program.
Mentor opted last year to consider the program which could cost the city as little as 20 percent of total project costs or nothing, if it goes through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Mentor has not yet implemented a system.
The city would need to agree to file an application, and then be accepted by ODOT.
If approved, the city could implement several different methods to try to reduce collisions.
There were 62 animal-vehicle collisions in the city from 2007-09 and 83 from 2009 – 11, with most collisions on Walker Road, Lake Road and SR 83. Tawfiq noted most collisions occurred at night.
Systems could include animal warning systems or driver warning systems.
Animal warning systems are usually activate by headlights. Once a vehicle is detected, animals are alerted by audio and visual signals from stations placed in the right-of-way.
In driver warning systems, road-side animal detections systems (RADS) consist of two parts—a sensor for animal detection and a warning signal to alert drivers after a detection has occurred.
Seasonal deer crossing signs are also an option.
If Avon Lake applied and is accepted, the city would determine where the systems would be located, and on what roads. ODOT requested that if accepted, the city would remain in the pilot program for a minimum of three years to allow for sufficient data to be collected and let the state determine if the program is effective.
The pilot program is not related to the culling option that has been discussed.
“This is completely separate from deer or herd reduction (culling),” Kos said. “
“The ultimate goal is to make the community safer.”
Kos learned of the program earlier in the year and asked for NOACA members to speak to council.
Councilman Larry Meiners expressed some skepticism, noting there aren’t any other local cities using the system to ask of effectiveness.
“A pilot program is like a guinea pig,” Meiners said. “I would wish this is as good as you said it is.”
To determine effectiveness, ODOT would review crash numbers before and after a pilot program was instituted.
The city could also request a nighttime infrared aerial study to get a more exact number of how many deer are in Avon Lake.
Byrnes Maier said no other infrared studies have been paid for by the state, but it could still be requested.
Councilman Rob James said he would expect the city would be accepted into the program if it applied. He said city council would be deciding within the next few weeks if it will apply.
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