City Analyzing Traffic Lights At Vine, Pine Streets

The art rendering shows the intersection of Spring and Front streets after the reconstruction of Spring Street, which could begin in 2020. The intersection includes bump outs for better line of sight and the removal of traffic signals.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: This is part two of two-part series to inform readers on traffic lights being removed from downtown St. Marys and what city administrators are to do with the additional lights that are currently in place. 

With the removal of traffic lights at three downtown intersections, city administrators have now shifted their attention to two more signalized intersections on the eastern side of Spring Street.

Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said there are a lot of discussions still taking place regarding the intersections of Pine and Vine at Spring Street because of the nature of those intersections. 

The intersection of Spring and Pine has Holy Rosary School and Church in its corner. Based on Choice One Engineering’s study conduct last year, they suggested that the intersection be changed to a two-way stop, but the city is concerned for the safety of students and other pedestrians crossing the street. 

“We are still talking to a lot of folks and we are still keeping an eye on that intersection,” Foxhoven said. “No decision has been made.”

Recommendations from Choice One Engineering during last April’s 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 findings. Keeping unwarranted traffic signals would costs the city just under $200,000 per intersection — a total of $1.8 million.

Choice One recommended traffic signals be removed from the intersections of Spring and Pine streets and replaced with a two-way stop.

Foxhoven added that there is a possibility that the light at that intersection may stay, despite the fact that the city would have to pay for it, and the same goes for Vine and Spring. Choice One recommended that traffic light be removed from Vine Street because of the low traffic count, but the city is also concerned with that intersection because of the line of sight.

“The curve coming up to the intersection is a concern,” Foxhoven said. “If we make the decision to keep it, we will simply have to pay for it, but what we will probably do is once this section of the road is constructed — right now these two signals are on timers — we may put loop detectors in there for the cross traffic.

“So the east and westbound traffic on Spring Street would remain green until a car going northbound or southbound on Pine Street would trip the detector. My guess is that is probably what is going to happen.”

There are a few intersections in town that have a loop detector, including Spruce and McKinley/Fortman intersection and the two traffic light intersections on Indiana Avenue in front of the St. Marys Square complex. Foxhoven added that there are also loop detectors at Main and South streets, Greenville Road and Main Street, Indiana and Defiance and Knoxville and East Spring streets.

“We are always going to put safety first,” Foxhoven reiterated. “We want to make sure that traffic flows smoothly and that it is efficient, but that will never trump safety. There has been no decision made and there probably won’t be anything done this year.”

Foxhoven added that the earliest the reconstruction would start is in 2020 from Knoxville Road to just east of Vine Street, which gives the city more time to ponder its options since the traffic lights won’t be affected.

That leaves two intersections left to be determined, Spring and Chestnut and Spring and Front streets. 

Foxhoven said the traffic lights at both stops will be removed during reconstruction in a few years and the lights will not be brought back once those intersections are done, however, the infrastructure needed to put traffic lights at an intersection will remain. Studies suggest those intersections be changed to a two-way stop with bump outs so cars can see past parked vehicles, however, the city would continue to monitor that location and can add traffic lights at that intersection down the road.

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

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