Thursday, November 18, 2004
The new traffic light at Mount Werner Road and Central Park Drive has raised numerous gripes from drivers in recent weeks.
Drivers have complained about the timing of the light, the left-hand turn signal onto Central Park Drive, a sign prohibiting right turns onto Mount Werner Road and striping of the road.
City Public Works Director Jim Weber said the problems are being addressed with new signage, a new light bulb and retiming the light.
The developers of the nearby commercial centers, who will be responsible for the light until the problems are solved, intend to have work done on the light no later than Tuesday, Weber said.
"Fundamentally speaking, the signal is still working, but it needs to be tweaked," Weber said. "Is there a nuisance associated with it? Yes. Is there a hazard? No."
City Manager Paul Hughes said the light was put in place after a traffic study indicated the new commercial developments near the intersection will warrant a traffic light when they are open for business. The developers paid for and built the traffic light to city standards.
"Traffic lights are often seen in small towns as the decline of civilization," Hughes said. "It is simply a way to protect everybody who has to move through an intersection. Traffic lights are a way to get around without crashing into each other."
Weber said many drivers have misinterpreted a sign on Central Park Drive that indicates right-hand turns are prohibited when the red arrow is lit. They have mistakenly interpreted it to mean that all right-hand turns on red are prohibited. The confusion arose because the sign uses an arrow symbol instead of writing out the word "arrow."
Drivers can turn right on red from Central Park Drive onto Mount Werner Road, Weber said, but not when the red arrow is flashing. The red arrow light is intended to prevent collisions between drivers turning left onto Mount Werner Road from Wildhorse Market Place intersection and those turning right onto Central Park Drive. The red arrow only is lit for about 18 seconds, Weber said.
The developers have agreed to replace the sign so the word "arrow" is written out and not in a symbol, which city officials hope will end the confusion.
Another complaint drivers have is the left-hand turn from Mount Werner Road onto Central Park Drive. The bulb in the overhead light that indicates drivers should turn left has burnt out, Weber said.
The green arrow is still visible from the traffic light mounted on a pole in the left-hand corner of the intersection, which gives drivers additional information and better visibility, Weber said. Because the city has not accepted the traffic light yet, it cannot replace the bulb.
Drivers also have become impatient with the timing of the light, which currently gives 60 seconds to vehicles coming out of Central Park and the Wildhorse Market Place development and 45 seconds for those on Mount Werner Road. Based on traffic flows, Mount Werner Road should have the majority of the time, Weber said.
Another problem is that the sensors are not detecting when cars are not in the turning lane, which would make the lights turn back to green faster for Mount Werner Road.
The contractors working on the traffic light also have to add in a component that will change the light to allow ambulances and fire trucks to pass through during emergencies. Without that component, the video detection system is not fully automated.
"There is a punch list of issues that we want to see corrected before we take it over," Weber said. "A signal like this, you need to show us the video detection is making the correct decisions."
Problems also have come up with the striping of the road. Weber said the main issue was a seam between old pavement and new pavement, which created a visual shift. He also said when the striping was done the first time, the road was not swept, and the painted lines came off. The road was swept a second time, and the lines stayed in place.