Cleveland business gets hit by car after guard rail not replaced

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CLEVELAND - The owner of a Cleveland business is demanding action after a car smashed through his office wall, saying damage could have been prevented if the city had replaced a guard rail.

Debris littered the ground where a minivan crashed into RAC, Inc. at the intersection of Caine Avenue and East 143rd early Saturday morning, according to owner Andy Johnson. The van damaged a desk, computer and printer when it penetrated a foot-thick cement and brick wall.

“It was only common sense that it was going to actually happen,” Johnson said.  “The problem is there is no guard rail there to protect anybody.”

The City of Cleveland removed a guard rail from in front of the assembly business after a car crashed into it and damaged it in April. Johnson said the intersection is crash-prone, recalling half a dozen vehicles that crashed into the guard rail in recent months. He said he repeatedly contacted the city and his councilman to replace the rail, but he got nowhere.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the weekend crash, but Johnson’s wife, Kristen, who is RAC, Inc.’s Office Manager, said she’s worried that could change.

“My biggest fear is someone sitting there and being injured or worse than that,” she said.

Fox 8 News asked the city why the guard rail had not been replaced.

“We're evaluating that location to see if we need to replace that or not,” Acting Streets Commissioner Paul Barnett said. “The evaluation is taking place now.”

Barnett said the city is examining whether current state law still requires a guard rail in the location and promised that the city will look at crash rates. He could not offer a time frame on its evaluation, adding that the city will look at it as quickly as possible. It doesn’t always evaluate guard rail replacement.

“A lot of times it's very obvious; there's a bridge abutment there, there's a light pole next to it on a high-speed travel lane. So, that’s very obvious,” he said. “This particular one, it's an odd situation.”

He added that property owners can take their own steps to protect their buildings through the addition of landscaping or rock barriers.

That’s something the Johnsons said they’ll now consider as they wait on the city.

“Hopefully something will get done, they can get a guard rail in there, or I’m going to have to put highway barriers or something in there so we don't die,” Johnson said, adding he fears additional crashes into his office without the guard rail’s protection. “It’s happened in the past, it's going happen in the future. I just hope nobody gets hurt.”