MARIETTA - Promoting better traffic flow through changes in traffic signals is the aim of recommendations from the Marietta Traffic Commission.
"For some time people have contacted the commission, asking why one signal stops traffic too long, or why another is too short, so the commission just decided to look at everything," said Mike Scales, current traffic commission chairman.
Beginning last fall the commission looked at 27 of the city's signalized intersections and developed recommendations to improve traffic flow at each crossroad, then in December the commission presented those recommendations to the administration, Scales said.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Traffic passes through Washington and Fifth streets. The Marietta Traffic Commission has recommended making the signal a flashing light.
Council President Josh Schlicher was chairman of the traffic commission when the recommendations were forwarded to the administration.
"I originally brought the issue to the traffic commission out of pure frustration from driving through town in traffic that was stop-and-go, stop-and-go," he said. "There was no efficient traffic movement."
Schlicher said it took about six months of discussion among the traffic commission members to develop the list of signals that could be improved.
Marietta Traffic Commission
The Marietta Traffic Commission reviewed the operation of 27 traffic signals throughout the city and has made recommendations to the city administration to improve traffic flow. Among those recommendations are coordinating signal timing to help eliminate "stop-and-go" traffic, and setting some signals on permanent "flash mode" that would allow smoother traffic flow along the city's main through streets. The following signalized intersections are included:
* Market/Franklin streets-remove 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. sign for no turn on red, set signal on flash mode permanently, making Franklin the through traffic (non-warranted signal) for a 6-month trial period.
* Putnam/Gilman avenues-time signal with Front/Putna streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Front/Putnam streets-time signal with all other Putnam Street signals.
* Second/Putnam streets-time signal with all Putnam Street signals, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Third/Putnam streets-remove leading arrows in all directions, remove dedicated turn lanes to left and straight, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Fourth/Putnam streets-time signal with all Putnam Street signals, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Second/Scammel streets-set on flash mode permanently, making Second Street the through traffic (non-warranted signal) for a 6-month trial period.
* Third/Scammel streets-time signal with Third/Putnam streets signal, set on flash mode permanently, making Third Street the through traffic (non-warranted signal) for a 6-month trial period.
* Front/Butler streets-time signal to Front/Putnam streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Third/Butler streets-time signal to Third/Putnam streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Second/Washington streets-time signal with third/Washington streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Fourth/Washington streets-time signal with Third/Washington streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., remove no turn on red from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. sign.
* Fifth/Washington streets-remove no turn on red from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. sign, set on flash mode permanently, making Washington Street the through traffic (non-warranted signal) for a 6-month trial period.
* Seventh Street/Glendale Road/Putnam Street-quicker signal turnover at night.
* Glendale Road/Colegate Drive-go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Third/Marion streets-go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Acme Street/Kroger entrance-quicker signal turnover, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Phillips/Acme streets-quicker signal turnover at night, sight distance problems.
* Greene Street/Colegate Drive-time to Acme/Greene streets signal, designate left turn signal onto Colegate Drive from Greene Street.
* Acme/Greene streets-time signal to Green Street/Colegate Drive signal.
* Greene Street (from Acme to Pike Street)-time all signals together for progressive traffic movement.
* Greene/Second streets-time signal with Third Street signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Greene/Third streets-split cycle-2 left turn lanes with lead arrows from Third Street northbound onto Greene Street, one right turn north on Ohio 60, no left turn from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Greene Street, go to flash mode from p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Greene/Fourth streets-time signal with Third Street, set controller to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Williamstown Bridge-time signal with Third/Fourth streets signal, go to flash mode from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* Wayne Street-time signal with Pike Street signal.
* Lafayette Center entrance-time signal with Acme Street signal.
Source: Marietta Traffic Commission.
"There was no formal study done, we just used common sense and observations from the traffic commission," he said.
"By November we finally had a list put together and sent it to the city administration in December, before I left th commission."
The recommendations included permanently (after a six-month trial period) switching signals at four intersections to "flash mode," with a yellow flashing "slow-down" signal allowing traffic to pass along the through-street, and a red flashing stop signal on the cross street.
Those four signalized intersections are Franklin and Market streets, with Franklin becoming the through street; Second and Scammel streets, with Second Street being the through street; Third and Scammel streets with Third Street as the through street; and Fifth and Washington streets, where Washington would be the through street.
Evan Chichester, owner of the Sterling Service Store on the corner of Second and Scammel streets, said it would make sense to allow traffic on Second Street to pass through the intersection while vehicles crossing Second from Scammel Street would have to stop.
"I think that could probably be made permanent," he said. "Most of the traffic is traveling on Second Street in this area."
In addition, Second Street resident Nick Finkel said the signal at Second and Washington streets should be adjusted to better accommodate traffic.
"They need to time that light better in the evenings," he said. "After 6 p.m. there's no reason that Second Street traffic should have to wait several minutes to get through that signal. When I go to work I use Front Street just to avoid the light at Second and Washington streets."
But Doug and Karen Thompson, owners of Bestone Computer Sales and Service at Fifth and Washington streets, believe the signal at that intersection should not be changed to a permanent flash mode.
"This signal should be left the way it is," Karen said. "Tons of kids walk through this intersection on their way to and from school. Drivers sometimes don't seem to them, or else they just don't care as they speed through the intersection."
She said a crossing guard was once almost struck by a vehicle while helping children cross through the intersection.
He said Bestone has installed a traffic camera that's trained on the intersection, and by visiting the www.bestonecomputers.com website anyone can monitor traffic passing through the signal.
Schlicher said while he understands the concern for children from Washington Elementary School crossing the intersection, after some discussion the traffic commission believes the signal should be completely removed and stop signs placed on Fifth Street to allow better traffic flow on Washington Street.
"There should be no traffic signal light at that location," he said. "The light cannot be controlled because it was built with 1960s technology. Also there is n pedestrian crossing signal at that intersection."
Schlicher said there were no state standards at the time that required a certain number of vehicles to pass through an intersection before a traffic light could be warranted.
"They apparently just put it up as a four-way traffic light because they thought it was needed at that time," he said.
Setting that light and the other three signalized intersections on flash mode for a six-month period would enable the traffic commission and city administration to determine if any problems occur, Schlicher said.
If there are no problems, the city could leave those signals permanently on flash mode or remove them as unnecessary for traffic control in the future, he said.
Scales said the traffic commission is waiting for comment on the proposed signal changes from the city administration. He expects the commission members will have the administration's reply soon and the issue will be discussed further during the traffic commission's next meeting at 4 p.m. March 13.