BUCKHANNON — City Council took time on Thursday to discuss community feedback to the new four-way stops on Main Street. Most members conceded that the response has not been good.
At the city’s request, the Department of Highways installed the four-way stops, one at the corner of Main and Spring streets and the other at the intersection of Main and Florida streets, to improve traffic flow in the area.
Council member Ron Pugh said he does think traffic flow is faster. But, he said, “I’ve not received one positive comment about the lights.”
The main problem, he said, is that drivers in the left-hand lane turning from Main Street to Florida Street have “no idea when to turn.”
Council member David Thomas raised a new issue he said he was embarrassed he hadn’t thought of before.
“The comments that concern me the most come from people that are physically challenged,” he said.
Thomas relayed a story of a blind person with a seeing-eye dog having trouble crossing the street because drivers fail to stop for pedestrians.
People with physical challenges want independence, he said.
“The city needs to take a serious look at it,” he continued. “The traffic flow is better for some people in cars but not people with seeing eye dogs.”
Thomas blamed an “overall lack of sensitivity” for the problem, and pointed to impatient drivers using cell phones, eating and not paying attention.
“I think a lot of drivers don’t know what the protocol is when you come to a four-way stop,” he said.
Thomas said that the city would need to look into the ADA regulations to make sure the city is in compliance.
Pam Cuppari, city council member, said, “All I’ve heard is negative.”
She said that after going through two four-way stops, the third intersection with a regular traffic light confuses people.
The evaluation period for the lights is scheduled to last for six months.
“I don’t want to wait for six months,” Cuppari said.
City recorder Rich Clemens said he’d also heard negative feedback.
“My biggest concern is that people don’t stop,” he said.
He also agreed that pedestrian traffic is a problem.
“In my mind, pedestrians have the right of way,” he said. “People don’t even stop.”
Clemens said he’d even taken a look at his granddaughter’s driver’s licensing handbook.
“The handbook is clear,” he said.
He continued, “We’ve got lots of four-way stops in this city, and you need to come to a stop, period.”