(Posted June 13, 2014)
By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer
On June 5, London City Council approved a plan to remove traffic lights at the intersections of High Street and Dunn Avenue/School Street, Center and Oak streets, Center and Walnut streets, First and Union streets, and First and Walnut streets.
After the lights are removed, stop signs will be installed, making most of the intersections two-way stops.
In a public hearing held before council voted on the plan, London Library Director Mike Hensel expressed concern about the intersection at First and Union, where the library is located. He asked council to consider making it a four-way stop instead of a two-way stop.
“When the traffic study was conducted, the library was closed for renovations, so I feel the traffic count at the intersection of First and Union streets is not accurate,” Hensel said. “We get 100 to 150 cars a day at the library, not to mention all the foot traffic we generate.”
Hensel’s worry was that eliminating the light will endanger library patrons who are trying to cross the intersection.
“I commend your initiative to save money, but my biggest concern is the safety of our community,” he said. “There are families with young children who use that intersection and I feel a two-way stop is not safe enough.”
Hensel’s comments spurred a debate among council members. Some opposed the four-way idea; others supported it.
“My recommendation the whole time was to make that intersection a four-way stop,” said Dick Minner, council member. “What harm can it cause to make it a four-way stop, and if we end up not needing it later, we can take it down. I just don’t see people slowing down at the library without a four-way stop.”
After several minutes of debate, council approved an amendment making the library intersection a four-way stop.
Choice Once, an engineering firm, provided the city with a traffic study based on data collected in March. While they recommended a two-way stop at the First and Union, council had the right to overrule their recommendations.
“The reason we decided to do the traffic study was because we wanted to change all our lights to more energy efficient ones to save the city money,” Hume said. “When we started looking into the lights, we thought there may be some we do not need anymore. We decided maybe we should examine this more before we spend thousands on new lights.”
The study showed the city can remove five lights, which according to Hume will save the city thousands in electric bills.
The removal of the lights will take place in phases, with a few lights removed at a time. Proper notifications at the intersections will take place. Hume said the lights should be removed and the new stop signs up by the end of the summer.