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Synchronized traffic light project may begin in June '05

March 27, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO - Unless the Waynesboro Borough Council reverses itself again, the long-awaited project to build a $1.2 million synchronized traffic light system on Main Street could begin in June 2005, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The project, if it gets under way as planned, would be finished by the end of November 2005, PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said Friday.

The seven-intersection traffic control system runs east along Main Street from North Grant Street to Welty Road in Washington Township. The project would replace the aging string of stoplights with a modern computerized system that would be controlled by a computer in Borough Hall.

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The operator there could switch the synchronization during peak traffic periods to enhance traffic flow - at least until it reaches Public Square from either direction.

There, the confusing maze of traffic lights that exists today won't be improved much with the new system, Penny said.

The reason, he said, is because of the great distance across the four-way intersection where Main and Church streets cross.

"It's harder to time the lights to achieve an improved traffic flow by leaving the square open as it is now," he said. "There will be some inefficiencies. It's easier to manage traffic through a normal intersection."

Signals in the square tend to conflict with one another, Penny said.

"It's confusing. I don't know of any other place like that," he said.

Back in 1999, the Borough Council voted to change the square by moving all four sides closer together to allow for a better traffic control system through the intersection.

The council's decision drew heavy opposition from a number of residents who see the square as a historic Waynesboro landmark. It also drew the ire of some merchants whose businesses line the square. Closing in the intersection would have caused the loss of some parking spaces.

The council's makeup changed in 2002 with the election of some new members. The move to reconsider the 1999 vote was lead by Council President Douglas Tengler. The result was a 4-2 vote to leave the square as is.

Tengler, who left the council in December, said he wanted the new vote to keep a campaign promise.

PennDOT already had begun environmental and engineering studies on the project with a closed-in square. The council's action delayed the start of construction.

PennDOT engineers are revising the environmental and engineering design, Penny said.

PennDOT officials plan to meet with borough officials later this spring to go over the new preliminary drawings. If an agreement is reached, PennDOT will revise the design, Penny said.

The borough still will benefit from the project because its antiquated traffic light system will be modernized, he said.

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