City traffic signal upgrade begins

March 21, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

City traffic signal upgrade begins

Work on a $2.1 million traffic signal replacement and upgrade project through the core of Hagerstown will begin Monday and could take more than a year, officials said.

Traffic signals at 55 intersections will be replaced or upgraded along U.S. 40 through downtown and on several side streets, said Assistant City Engineer Rodney Tissue. There are eight signals at each intersection.

"This isn't going to be a major disruption of traffic," Tissue said.

There will be minor delays at one or two intersections at a time.

The intersections are between Cannon Avenue, Fairground Avenue, Nottingham Road and Lee Street.

This week crews will work at four intersections. They are:

- East Washington Street at Mulberry Street.

- East Washington Street at Cannon Avenue.

- East Franklin Street at North Mulberry Street.


- East Franklin Street at North Cannon Avenue.

No lanes are expected to be closed until Thursday morning when lanes will be closed along East Franklin Street, East Washington Street and Cannon Avenue at different times, Tissue said.

Maryland State Highway Administration officials will ensure two through lanes are open at all times, Tissue said. The contractor's crews will work on only four intersections at a time.

Most of the work will be done during the day between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., he said. When crews need to close a lane they will do it between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. when there typically isn't a lot of traffic.

If any work is done during evening hours, it will not be noisy work, Tissue said. Crews might work some Saturdays and Sundays during the day.

The project will replace antiquated equipment up to 50 years old that doesn't allow traffic signals to change to accommodate heavy and light traffic flows, Tissue said.

Drivers should notice a difference when the project is done, which is expected to be in March or April 1999, according to city and state traffic officials.

The new signals will move traffic more efficiently during rush hours, Tissue said.

If there is a special event or an accident on Interstate 70 with traffic being detoured onto U.S. 40, the signals can be adjusted to allow for longer green lights on the detour path to prevent backups, he said.

A computer system will monitor the signals for major delays so traffic engineers can react faster, Tissue said.

At night the signal patterns will be more accommodating so drivers won't be sitting at long red lights as often when there is no traffic on the cross street, he said.

Once the project is complete, it will take engineers a month or two to tweak the system so traffic signal patterns are more efficient, he said.

State officials are working on ways to make sure traffic patterns remain smooth during the transition period when there are both old and new signals through downtown, Tissue said. The new signals might be covered with bags until they are all ready.

Pedestrians will lose the ability to cross diagonally at the intersection of Franklin and Potomac streets as they did at Public Square, Tissue said.

Hopefully they will have more than the five seconds allowed for now at Public Square to cross one street, he said.

Lockheed Martin, of Georgia, was awarded a $1.5 million contract to upgrade signals at 49 of the intersections, said James Zufall with the state highway administration.

Tissue said $800,000 in bond money had been budgeted for the city's share of the Lockheed Martin contract, but he expects it will actually be less.

Signal controllers for the 49 intersections under the Lockheed Martin contract will cost another $245,000, according to state highway.

The city will spend another $295,000 in federal grants to upgrade signals at the five remaining intersections, Tissue said.

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