Some residents of new affordable housing complex are walking along a “dangerous” road

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The new, affordable Kershaw Greene apartment complex sits next to a busy rural road in western Athens. 

For residents without transportation, it means walking alongside cars with very little room to maneuver. 

Some residents cross the high-traffic intersection of State Route 682 and West Union Street to the Go Mart.

Lania Hamill has been living at Kershaw Greene for six months. While she’s never walked along 682, she knows other residents do. 

“We have a bunch of people here, and there’s people with children, there’s disabled people that the only way they have to get anywhere is to walk,” Hamill said. 

There are a couple cars driving toward the West Union Street and S.R. 682 intersection coming from the Little Fish direction.
West Union Street and S.R. 682 intersection is busy, and hard for pedestrians to cross. [Alison Patton | WOUB]
The Athens County Active Transportation Steering Committee did a walk audit on the area last summer and found the road to be dangerous. 

Walk audit participant Stephanie Hunter said the walk started with crossing 682 in front of the apartments, so the group could walk facing traffic.

We crossed the road, one of the first problems we ran into was that someone leaned out their car to yell at us to use the crosswalk,” Hunter said. 

Neither 682 nor the intersection have crosswalks or sidewalks, which is the problem. 

Hunter went through the walk again this year and found similar concerns with the road, including frequent tire tracks in the area pedestrians walk. 

Josh Burchfield walks along 682 to his mom and sister’s house in The Plains almost everyday. 

“You’re just too close to the cars,” he said. 

On the other end of the road, apartment residents have to navigate the intersection, Hunter said.

The complex is still being built, and there will be about 200 units when construction finishes. 

The portion of 682 immediately after the intersection is 50 mph, a continuation of the speed limit coming from the Richland Avenue roundabout. The speed limit drops to 35 mph around Kershaw Greene then rises to 45 mph after the apartments. 

The rural area is mostly made up of businesses and industrial operations. 

“There are no driveways, there are no street trees, sidewalks, trash cans. We don’t see anything that triggers in our head, I got to slow down,” Hunter said.

A orange Honda turns right off S.R. 682 on to West Union Street. The stop light is yellow for opposing traffic.
The West Union Street and S.R. 682 intersection is busy and difficult for pedestrians to cross. [Alison Patton | WOUB]
This creates risks for pedestrians, especially at the 682/West Union intersection.

“It is actively hostile to them, which is really a shame because we have all these beautiful new apartments, we have the entirety of the University Estates and all of these people need to go places,” Hunter said. 

The intersection uses turn signals to keep the flow of traffic going, Hunter said. For a pedestrian, it’s hard to know which set of cars have the right of way and that makes it difficult to know when to cross because a car could always be turning. 

City officials are aware of the concerns. 

“It is something that’s important to us and so we’re going to attempt to address it,” Andy Stone, Athens service-safety director, said.

Stone said the city is replacing the 682/West Union intersection with a roundabout that will have crosswalks on all four sides. 

The project won’t be finished for another two years, Stone said. It goes out to bid early 2025. 

Stone said ideally pedestrian infrastructure would have been in place before the apartments were built.

“Sometimes it happens the other way around, and local government ends up reacting in some cases to development,” Stone said.