FREDERICKTOWN — On the way to view the site, Commissioners Allen Stockberger and Robert Wise weren’t sure a four-way stop would be necessary at the intersection of Fredericktown-Amity Road and Knox Lake Road. But after inspection of the site, a conference with other officials and discussion with property owner Irvin Miller, the two commissioners became convinced that more than intersection maintenance would be needed to make the crossroads safe.
The intersection has a north- and southbound stop for travelers on Knox Lake Road, but none for east- and westbound travelers on Fredericktown-Amity Road.
“I’m going to change my mind and say that a four-way stop really is needed,” Wise said.
Capt. Richard Brenneman of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, present at the site for the discussion, said he initiated the discussion with County Engineer Jim Henry after the severity of a recent accident. Henry said regardless of whether the four-way stop was approved, his department would do some sight line maintenance, although he, too, recommended the four-way stop. Larry Bechtel, assistant to the county engineer, said they will take down a tree partially blocking the view to the west from the south side of the intersection. Miller agreed to that.
Miller also recently trimmed his hedge down by about a foot to help sight lines. When Henry asked him if he would be open to removing the hedge if the county worked with him to replace it with some lower landscaping feature, Miller said that was fine. He said his only reason for planting the hedge was to offer a buffer to stop or slow down any vehicle that might come out of the intersection toward his house, which is in the southwest corner of the intersection.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Officer Sgt. Cornelius Cross, who has patrolled the area for many years, said the intersection is growing more dangerous over the years because of increased traffic using Knox Lake Road as a route to Mansfield and because of the change in vehicles.
“Drivers’ points of perception are changing,” Cross said. “We have fewer truck drivers these days who sit up higher and can see better around this intersection.”
He said drivers in lower-sitting vehicles have a harder time viewing traffic on Fredericktown-Amity Road. Thus, he was also in favor of implementing a four-way stop.
A traffic study conducted on Aug. 27 and 28 recorded that as many as 1,003 vehicles enter the intersection in one day, according to Bechtel. The number of accidents has increased from one in 2007 to three so far in 2009. Stockberger pointed out that much of the difficulty with the intersection can be traced to its awkward hillside layout.
“It was probably fine back in the horse-and-buggy days,” Stockberger said.
He also agreed to support the change to a four-way stop.
Miller, who has lived next to the intersection for 60 years, said he was eager to see a change.
“I think it’s the only solution,” Miller said. “I sit on the porch and watch people go through [the intersection] without stopping. I don’t want to see anyone get killed.”
He said that particularly since Fredericktown-Amity Road was repaved, drivers have been going even faster, increasing the hazard of accidents.
The commissioners unanimously approved the change, which will be implemented by the county engineer’s office.