By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
During the Washington City Council meeting Tuesday evening, the council voted to change the lights of the intersection at East Main Street and Second Avenue in Washington to make the roads a 4-way stop
City administrator Brent Hinson said the staff had reviewed traffic at the intersection to figure out how the city should move ahead. The staff reached an agreement that the intersection should be made into a 4-way stop as a way to improve the safety of the roadway and at the same time not remove valuable downtown parking spaces.
?When we started this process I personally would not have been in favor of a 4-way stop at the intersection,? Hinson said. ?Having really looked at this in detail and discussed it in detail, it really seems like that is the solution for this.?
He said for the winter, the stop lights at the intersection will be changed to blinking red lights. When spring arrives, signage will be installed indicating the 4-way stop.
For two months, the stop lights at the intersection had been set to flash. The north-south lights continuously flash yellow and the east-west light continuously flash red. In a memo to the council, Hinson reported the feedback from the change has been mixed, with some happy not to have to stop from one direction, while others say the setup is confusing. At a previous meeting, council member Kathryn Salazar said the people she had spoken to liked the setup, but many had almost had accidents at the intersection.
The council has discussed the parking spaces in the area possibly creating a sight problem at the intersection. Most council members agreed the feedback they had heard indicated people liked the new setup, but safety and a blind spot needed to be addressed.
?It isn?t a traffic issue,? Hinson said. ?There is no reason for a traffic light to be there.?
He also said parking is at a premium in the downtown area and the city employees didn?t feel it was worth removing about 12 parking spaces downtown due to the intersection to facilitate a two-way stop.
Mayor Sandra Johnson commented that a handicapped stall would be lost due to the plan.
?Technically I have had more people say they like being able to pass through there, but I have had people very clearly articulate the need for safety and for saving the parking spaces,? council member Jaron Rosien said. ?I have also been swayed by people who think this is the best choice.?
Hinson also said the flashing stoplight would be less of an impediment than sitting at a timed stoplight.
An ordinance change will be given to the council for voting sometime before spring.