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Local News

February 8, 2014

Traffic signal's future faces fork in the road

The traffic signal at the intersection of Church and Center streets will be the focus of a meeting at the former Center Street Elementary School at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Common Council’s Facilities, Technology and Operations Committee wants to hear residents’ views about the intersection and its traffic light and patterns, Michael Long, city manager, said.

The fate of the traffic light has become an issue because one of its supporting wires is connected to a dead tree.

Previously, when Center Street had more traffic, including school buses and child pedestrians when the neighborhood school was open, the intersection with Church Street had a standard traffic light and was a quasi-four-way intersection, Long said.

With a change in traffic patterns and a traffic signal that needs replacing, the question is whether the Center and Church should be remodeled as a three-way intersection with stop signs, he said.

The city conducted a three-month study with stop signs, with the traffic signal flashing red. Since the trial concluded in December, the city moved a stop on Center Street at Central Avenue to the opposite side of Central Avenue to be closer to a crosswalk at Church Street. A sign prohibiting blocking Central Avenue, which is a one-way street, also was installed in mid-January.

James Hawver, senior engineering technician for the city, had conducted a traffic study at the intersection at the request of the FTO Committee. The study included all of 2013, including a study of the all-way stop model between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1, he said.

Traffic counts since 1990 show that the quantity of traffic on Center or Church Street doesn’t meet the minimum levels to justify installation of a replacement traffic signal, estimated to cost $150,000, according to Hawver. The justification for a traffic signal based on the presence of a school no longer applies because Center Street Elementary School concluded its program in June 2012.

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