City: Downtown Traffic Light Stays, But Changes Coming
By Brandi Maksuki
City leaders have reversed a 2016 decision to remove traffic signals at Church St. and Centerpoint Drive.
The roadway, which is a one-way westbound thoroughfare, once commanded a heavier traffic count during the Centerpoint Mall’s heyday. The mall was razed in 2012 and today is home to several new entities, to include Mid-State Technical College, Great Lakes Higher Education and the future Cobblestone Hotel.
City officials previously decided to remove the traffic signals last March, citing unnecessary wait times for motorists due to a lack of oncoming traffic. But following a meeting between residents of Hi-Rise Manor — a Housing Authority-operated facility accommodating low-income elderly and disabled residents — and District 1 Ald. George Doxtator, the lengthy removal process came to a stop.
“The residents had indicated to Alderman [George] Doxtator that they did not feel comfortable with that decision,” Mayor Mike Wiza said, adding many of the building’s residents utilize wheelchairs and walkers, and often needed extra time and security in crossing Centerpoint Drive.
According to Joel Lemke, interim director of public works, the city will instead perform a simple update to the cabinet containing the signal controls, and also add a push-button for pedestrians. The update was already planned for the 2017 budget, Lemke said, as the city has been upgrading one traffic signal cabinet annually for the past several years.
The change allows for westbound traffic on Centerpoint to experience a green light until sensors inside the cabinet detect an oncoming motorist or bicyclist approaching from north or south of the intersection, or until a pedestrian engages the push-button. The traffic signal on Centerpoint Dr. will then change to red, allowing plenty of time for motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians to cross.
“It’s going from a timed intersection to an actuated one, so it’s responding to your presence,” Lemke said.
Mayor Mike Wiza said the change would “minimize wait times” at the intersection.
“People often come up to the lights and there’s no traffic coming from the other way, so we’re going to be a little more efficient in that regard,” he said.
Lemke said other alternatives for the intersection were considered, to include installing a Rapid Rectangular Flash Beacon, similar to the RRFB at Franklin and Division streets, but none were as cost-effective as simply updating the cabinet.
The changes will take effect sometime this spring.