Mixed signals over keeping traffic light

Union Bridge officials to send letter to state next month on removal

March 28, 2001|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Union Bridge officials will send a letter to the state next month saying whether they want the town's lone traffic light removed. But at the moment, opinion appears split between stop and go.

Those who want to keep the signal say it helps slow traffic and makes the intersection safer for pedestrians and vehicles at Broadway and Main Street, which is also state Route 75.

Those who favor its removal, including Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., claim Main Street traffic speeds up for the green light, while vehicles on the cross street, Broadway, sometimes run the red.

The intersection doesn't remotely meet any of 11 criteria in the national standards for traffic signals, said State Highway Administration officials, who presented their case for removing the signal at the Town Council's meeting Monday night.

"You're talking about qualifications to install a new light, but we already have a light," said Councilwoman Dawn M. Metcalf, who supports keeping the signal, as do Councilwomen Karen K. Kotarski and Kathleen D. Kreimer. "I am really against that light leaving here."

"We don't have accidents maybe because we do have a light," Kotarski said.

"There won't be anything to slow them down," said Kreimer. "I would like to see it stay."

The Town Council will decide on what the letter will recommend.

The Main Street light stays green until a vehicle on Broadway trips sensors in the roadbed, said Neil Parrott, traffic engineer for the SHA's District 7 office in Frederick. It can't be activated by pedestrians, he said.

The state plan would eliminate two parking places to improve sight and extend the curb with concrete "bump-outs" to narrow the road for pedestrians and through traffic, he said.

If removal of the light caused problems, it could be reinstalled quickly at no cost to the town, according to officials.

Joan McKee, who heads the Main Street revitalization committee, expressed concern about future traffic around the town of about 1,000, and asked for an example of a town with a comparable situation.

"Trying to think of another town with a similar situation: New Market has no light, despite a growing population and increasing volume from some side streets," said John Concannon, assistant district traffic engineer. But the state has refused its request for a light and tends to discourage new signals.

Studies for the SHA-sponsored revitalization project led traffic engineers to recommend removing the stoplight. They suggested the town send a letter stating its position to the district engineer.

SHA traffic projections include growth for the next 20 years, Concannon said. The intersection would be rebuilt to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Eliminating the light would save about $100,000.

Union Bridge would have one light in town, Parrott noted. Within two months, the state will install a flashing emergency signal on Main Street at Locust Street, where the fire station moved from Broadway in 1967.

The mayor said yesterday that he has heard talk about a petition to save the light. But several people who have stopped by his Main Street garage "said already they aren't going to sign it."

"It's going to be a toss-up between the people who want it and the people who don't want it," Jones said.

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