Committee: Turn traffic lights back on at Eighth and Vermont

Jeffrey Conte, director of utilities and engineering
Posted: Jul. 14, 2014 10:56 pm Updated: Jul. 28, 2014 11:15 pm
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A city committee has recommended that the traffic signals at Eighth and Vermont be reactivated.

The Traffic Commission’s recommendation Monday means residents at Sunset Apartments may see the intersection controlled again soon. The City Council is expected to make a final decision next week.

Residents expressed concerns about safely crossing the intersection at a June 23 public hearing. Nine residents and employees from Sunset Apartments in attendance at Monday’s meeting burst into applause when the committee unanimously approved its recommendation.

The committee also unanimously recommended that the traffic light already deactivated at Eighth and Jersey be removed from the intersection. No complaints were filed about the intersection.

Cindy Yuchs, manager of Sunset Apartments, said it’s easy to see why the committee heard no complaints about the Eighth and Jersey signal.

“There’s not an apartment complex. There’s hardly anything on those corners, so I think people are comfortable with that,” she said. “But up at on that corner on Eighth and Vermont, we just feel it’s a danger for our folks, and they just hate to see that it’s not going to be in working order anymore.”

Jeffrey Conte, director of utilities and engineering, said while the controller unit at the Vermont intersection still needs to be replaced, the city could swap parts from the unit on Jersey.

“It probably only has another year or two in it before it’s going to need to be replaced, but that does buy us a little bit of time,” he said.

The traffic lights were disabled at each intersection in March on a trial basis to potentially avoid replacing controllers that would have cost $20,000 each. A traffic study conducted by the city this winter indicated the number of vehicles that travel along Eighth Street each day made the signals unnecessary.

A pedestrian count conducted by the city on from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday, June 29 showed 35 pedestrian crossings in the crosswalks.

“(Traffic lights) definitely can be justified by the number of people and by the age of them,” Conte said.

Jaywalking remains a concern at the intersection that saw 160 illegal pedestrian crossings during the count.

“Of course, if we put the lights back in and re-stripe the crosswalks, hopefully that will encourage people to cross at the crosswalks and not midblock, because that is very dangerous,” Conte said.