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County says five traffic signals will be switched to flashing

July 28, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County will put five traffic signals just outside Hagerstown on flash during the overnight hours in an attempt to save money and to speed up travel time for drivers.

Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said Monday that the county doesn't know how much it will save by using flashing signals but it got the idea from the Maryland State Highway Administration.

"The state does it and claims they save money," Wolford said. "We feel that it will save some money because you don't have that steady burn."

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State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kellie Boulware, however, said the state doesn't save money by utilizing flashing traffic signals.

She said the blinking yellow and red lights increase the safety of drivers late at night, a time when some travelers think they can drive through intersections without slowing down or stopping. She said the flashing lights tend to discourage that.

The flashing signals also reduce fuel costs for drivers, Boulware said, because they're not stopped at intersections as long as they would be with non-blinking lights.

"It's a service thing, as well as an energy savings for the county," said Robert Slocum, Washington County's deputy chief engineer.

The following Washington County traffic signals will begin blinking daily on Aug. 2 at the following intersections from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.:

  • Massey Boulevard at Cole Road

  • Massey Boulevard at the J.C. Penney entrance to Valley Mall

  • Mount Aetna Road at Yale Drive

  • Robinwood Drive at Medical Campus Drive

  • Eastern Boulevard at Security Road


Slocum said he recommended those traffic signals blink after reviewing such statistics as the number of accidents and traffic counts at each intersection.

"These were the ones that we feel" (will work), Wolford said.

He said the intersections have open views from all directions.

Wolford said the county probably will do a traffic review in the fall to determine how the flashing signals are working.

"We won't just do it and forget about it," he said.

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