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March 28, 2014

City: Traffic signal at Church and Center streets to stay

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The traffic light at the intersection of Center and Church streets is giving red-yellow-green signals again, city officials said, and the all-way stop signs have been removed.

The signal, which had to be fixed this week, will be switched to a blinking light during less busy times but hours and details have yet to be set, said Chip Holmes, chairman of the Common Council’s Facilities, Technology and Operations Committee. Motorists turning from Church Street onto Center Street will have to stop when the signal is switched to blinking mode, he said.

The fate of the light was in question because the signal system was secured by a guy wire connected to a dead tree, which could topple.

To save money in the 2014 budget, the Common Council excluded the replacement cost of the signal, estimated at $120,000 to $150,000. Since studying options, the city has determined that the guy-wire situation can be fixed at an estimated cost of about $2,000 to $4,000, officials said.

The north end of Church Street creates a T-intersection with Center Street, which is a main thoroughfare between the east and west sides of the city.

The city conducted a trial with all-way stop signs at that intersection and at the nearby turn-off from Center Street to Central Avenue, a one-way street.

However, police said the trial left motorists confused about who has the right of way to proceed.

Several residents also had raised concerns at FTO Committee meetings about access to driveways near the intersection and to Central Avenue.

Su Hartley, a resident of the one-way Central Avenue, said she initiated a petition in support of the all-way stop signs.

With the stop signs, traffic moved quickly and efficiently through the intersection, saving time and gasoline, said the change.org petition, which garnered 25 signatures online.

In a March 18 response to the petition, Holmes said the committee decided to maintain the traffic light based on information provided by police and engineering departments, public comments and the trial period.

Holmes, Common Council member from the Eighth Ward, said comments to help the committee review vehicular and pedestrian safety and efficiency in the city are welcomed.

Hartley said Wednesday that the petition no longer is being circulated because the decision to keep the light has been made.

The Oneonta City School District building near the intersection no longer has an elementary school at the Center Street School structure, but activities are held there, including Oneonta Family YMCA programs for children.