City Continues Traffic Study

Pictured is the traffic signal at the intersection of High and Front streets in St. Marys that are bagged because of a study being conducted by the city in regards to traffic flow.
Managing Editor

Beginning Tuesday, motorists driving through St. Marys will see fewer traffic lights and more stop signs at two intersections as part of the city's traffic study.

Traffic signals at the intersections of Wayne and Spring streets and Wayne and High streets will be on a flash in all directions and turned into a four-way and a two-way stops, respectively, for 90 days, before the traffic lights are bagged for another 60 days in seeing how the flow of traffic is with fewer traffic lights.

The traffic studies at those intersections are a part of the Spring Street Reconstruction Project that the city is looking to begin in 2021. The project is to reconstruct Spring Street from Wayne Street to Knoxville Avenue in six phases over a span of four to six years. As part of the reconstruction project, the city is looking to renovate the 13 intersections that have a traffic signal on Spring Street and the surrounding downtown area.

Recommendations from Choice One Engineering during an April St. Marys City Council meeting regarding the status of traffic signals on and around Spring Street, suggested that nine of the area's 13 traffic lights be removed because those traffic signals were deemed "unwarranted" based on traffic flow from Choice One's study.

With those recommendations in mind, the city already moved forward by conducting its own study — red flash in all directions for 90 days and bagging traffic signals for another 60 days — at the intersection of High and Front streets, with the anticipation that those lights will be removed permanently late next month with a four-way stop sign in its place.

The city is now onto the next phase by conducting a study at Spring and Wayne and Wayne and High streets. Those intersections will be under study beginning Tuesday when the city will change those lights to a red flash in all directions for 90 days, before bagging them for another 60 days. Currently, stop signs are up at those two intersections, but will remain covered until Tuesday. After the 150 days of the study is complete, the city will make a decision as to keeping the signal or removing it based on the number of crashes, complaints received and how city officials and law enforcement feel the flow of traffic is going.

"It is important that people understand this is just a traffic study," Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said. "No final decision has been made, but with that said — going back to the High and Front street intersection — to my knowledge, we have only received four complaints."

Foxhoven said, however, that the vast majority of comments have been favorable and positive toward changing the intersection to the four-way stop at High and Front. 

The city began its study at that intersection July 25.

The idea behind conducting a study to see if traffic signals should be removed is to improve traffic flow in the downtown area and because — under Choice One's study — those nine intersections are deemed unwarranted, meaning the city will receive no funding when the city renovates its traffic signals as part of its reconstruction project. Keeping unwarranted traffic signals would costs the city under $200,000 per intersection — a total of $1.8 million.

"If they are warranted, then there is a possibility of funding assistance to help cover the costs," Foxhoven said.

The following traffic signal intersections are what Choice One recommends be removed: Wayne and Spring, Wayne and High, Front and High, Spring and Front, both pedestrian intersections on Spring Street, Chestnut and Spring, Pine and Spring and Vine and Spring.

Per the engineer's recommendations, Wayne and High would be a two-way stop while Wayne and Spring would turn into a four-way stop. Traffic signals at Main and Wayne and Main and Spring would stay, along with Main and South.

Spring and Front and Spring and Chestnut would be turned into two-way stops, along with Spring at Pine and Vine streets.

Traffic signals at Spring and Spruce would remain and Front and High would have a four-way stop. The pedestrian crossings would have signage and an enhanced crosswalk. Intersections of Spruce and High and Spring and Knoxville were not a part of Choice One's traffic study.

Choice One's traffic study can be found on the city's website at CityOfStmarys.Net/News/Downtown-Traffic-Study.

To read the full story, see Monday's print edition of The Evening Leader.