LEWISTON – A year after a fatal accident on Center Street at Seventh Street, where a pedestrian walking her dog was fatally struck, the discussion about the safety of the road continues.
The Village Board on Monday had planned to take action by removing parking spaces on Center Street, near the northeast and southwest corners of the intersection in order to improve visibility, but tabled taking any action.
Center Street faces several unique issues.
Pulling out onto the street is dangerous because traffic from the north and south side streets have to come up steep hills and it’s hard for those drivers to see what’s coming down Center. There are several corners with stop lights, but there is not one at Seventh and Center streets.
Parking is also scarce, causing some people to park too close to the corners and obstruct the view of traffic for those who want to pull out onto Center Street.
The plan to remove the parking spaces was designed to alleviate obstruction at the corner where Gail Beutel, 61, of Sanborn was hit on June 1, 2014, as she crossed in the crosswalk with her dog. Beutel died four days later.
Lewiston Police Chief Christopher Salada said improving the line of sight at the intersection would make it much safer.
Village business owners and residents David Giusiana and Jamie Symmonds protested the plan to remove parking spaces near their corner and offered other suggestions, such as asking for a light at the intersection, slowing down traffic and considering a school zone in front of St. Peter’s School on North Sixth and Center streets.
“In terms of solving the problem, why is removing parking the first solution?” said Guisiana.
Symmonds agreed and said, “This is very personal to me. I am a victim. I was hit seven years ago crossing Center Street at Portage. I know more than anybody how difficult and how hard it is.”
But she called the plan to remove parking spaces “reactionary” and said the board needs to look at the bigger picture of traffic on Center Street.
Trustee Victor Eydt said a request to lower the speed limit on Center Street was denied by the state Department of Transportation.
In the end, the board agreed to table the plan and look into requesting a school zone at St. Peter’s Church and School.