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May 14, 2014

Traffic signal at Center and Church to go

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Center Street stop signs at intersections with Church Street and nearby Central Avenue are here to stay, Oneonta officials said Tuesday.

The traffic light at the intersection will be taken down, and later plans are to install two stop signs with enhanced lighting features along Center Street, according to recommendations.

Motorists’ behavior at the intersection and the method to regulate traffic in that area have been studied and debated for months. Center Street, which previously was the site of an elementary school, has been a main thoroughfare between East and West streets.

On Tuesday, the Common Council’s Facilities, Technology and Operations Committee reviewed the most recent study and recommendations for the intersection during a meeting at City Hall.

Chip Holmes, chairman of the Facilities, Technology and Operations Committee, said plans will be presented to the Common Council next week for needed approvals to meet city code and authorize funding.

Stop signs with eight LED lights along the edges would cost about $1,500 each, the traffic study memo said, and the total expense for two, including installation poles and shipping, would be between $4,250 and $4,500.

The lighted signs would enhance visibility at the stop sites, city officials said.

James F. Suozzo, consulting engineer, and Greg Mattice and James M. Hawver, senior engineering technicians in the city’s engineering department, recently met to review concerns about the intersection and issues raised by neighbors. They recommended that the current all-way stop configuration remain and that the signal be removed, plus other measures, including installation of the enhanced stop signs.

Plans are to have the enhanced signs installed by the start of the next school year, city officials said. Crosswalk and stop lines will be installed after Center Street is repaved this summer, they said.

The fate of the traffic light, which is broken beyond repair, has been the topic of meetings and studies for more than six months. The signal’s guy-wire system was attached to a dead tree, a situation that prompted worries by city officials that the tree would topple.

The cost to replace the signal had been estimated between $110,000 and $150,000, and in a cost-saving step during budget talks, that expense wasn’t included in the the 2014 spending plan.

As an alternative, the city installed all-way stop signs at the intersection.

At previous FTO meetings, residents expressed opposing views about whether the signal or stop signs was a better system. Later in the debate, a resident circulated a petition in favor of the stop signs.