Sidewalks on Ohio 7 too narrow?

When Ryan Smith rides his bicycle, he picks anywhere but Ohio 7 near Reno, if he can.

Concerns have been voiced about the safety around the mailboxes in Marietta Township. They were installed when the project to widen Ohio 7 from Walmart through Reno was completed in 2011.

When the new sidewalks were installed, mailboxes were left at the edge of the northbound side of Ohio 7, in some cases limiting the amount of space on the sidewalk to walk or ride a bicycle.

“It’s pretty dangerous,” said Smith, 35, who owns Marietta Adventure Company. “It does slightly obstruct the sidewalk. The bigger issue would be the mail carriers that have to service the mailboxes along that stretch. Considering it’s a busy route, they would have to make stops there.”

Smith said he noticed the mailboxes could be an issue once the sidewalks were completed.

When the project was designed, ODOT found it had a tight right-of-way and consulted Ohio 7 project planners, said David Rose, Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 communications manager. Those planners told Rose on Tuesday that the sidewalks were built to Americans With Disabilities Act specifications.

Rose said the designers and planners also consulted with the postmaster on the mailboxes.

Besides being a Marietta City Councilman who has worked on sidewalk access within the city, Roger Kalter is also an avid cyclist.

“That’s an example of the need for better planning,” Kalter said. “Cyclists were not consulted.”

Kalter said work needs to continue on the bicycle trails for a more cyclist-friendly environment than four lanes of Ohio Route 7. “Share the road” signs also might help the situation, he said.

“The issue is they are so close to the road, they are still in traffic,” said Marietta Postmaster Andrew Morgan, who has been Marietta’s post master since November. “We would have to establish some other means of getting mail in the boxes.”

Kalter said Smith brought up moving the mailboxes two years ago out of concern for people in wheelchairs trying to get through. For them, they encounter obstacle every few feet.

Smith suggested moving the mailboxes into groups to nearby locations off of Ohio 7, where it is less congested with traffic and less dangerous.

Ashley McMahan, 28, owner of The Dog Gone Groomer, said she sees people use the sidewalk every day. She said even she has had to step out in the road to get her mail.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Van Allen, based in Cleveland, said mailboxes that open from the back may be a safer alternative.