I never would have guessed that my family’s Amish heritage and my traffic engineering expertise together would be valuable to a client. But, when ODOT decided to undertake a traffic study in Geauga County—home to the fourth largest Amish settlement in the nation—my background was the perfect fit.
With the County’s diverse population, it’s critically important to find ways to integrate contrasting travel cultures. LJB has delivered a comprehensive study that lays the groundwork for a multi-agency strategic plan for traffic safety improvements aimed at improving safety for Amish highway users.
It’s always rewarding to know that my work is improving quality of life in the communities LJB serves. But, this project was especially rewarding—to use my technical background to help protect the people and culture that make up my family’s history.
For transportation, the Amish community primarily uses horse-drawn buggy vehicles or they travel on foot. Rural roads typically have narrow cross sections and provide minimal room to maneuver, increasing the likelihood of pedestrian/vehicular conflict. And, there is inherent conflict with vehicles traveling at 55 mph versus the 5-8 mph horse-drawn buggies, which also have minimal crash protection for buggies and occupants.
After surveying members of the Amish community, collecting and analyzing data, and debating alternatives, the stakeholder committee is confident that the plan will make travel safer for all highway users in the County. The Amish community is also thankful for the funding and effort contributed by ODOT District 12 to complete the study and begin implementing solutions.
I’ll be speaking about this project at next week’s Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference (OTEC) in Columbus. Join me in Session 56 on October 26 at 8:40 a.m. to learn more about this unique and interesting project.