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City says traffic arrows won't relieve traffic congestion

April 17, 2011
  • Traffic is backed up on Walnut Street at West Washington Street near St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

The problem: Traffic signals at the intersections of Walnut and Washington streets and Walnut and Franklin streets in Hagerstown have turn arrows, but the arrows do not activate during normal cycles of the traffic signal.

Rich Strama, whose children attend the nearby St. Mary Catholic School, said activating those signals would reduce the “massive congestion” he sees at the intersections during pick-up and drop-off times.

“I have contacted the city’s public works office several times but I have not yet received a response as to why these turning lights are disabled/broken,” Strama wrote in a March 21 email.

Who could fix it: City of Hagerstown

What they say: Hagerstown Public Works Manager Eric Deike said the turn signals at both of those intersections are activated only by emergency vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances.

“Currently traffic counts do not allow those arrows to be activated” for the general driving public, Deike said.

He said adding a turn cycle to those signals would mean longer waits for drivers on Franklin and Washington streets, which have heavier traffic than Walnut Street.

“The intersection is designed to accommodate the majority of traffic flow,” he said.

He said his department would study whether school-related traffic had changed the situation, but warned that activating the turn arrows would be a complicated change.

The signals are part of the state highway system and must be coordinated with the rest of the downtown grid, Deike said.

In addition, adding turn lanes on Walnut Street would require taking away some street parking, he said.

“We have to really consider all the ramifications if we make a change, and that takes time,” he said.
 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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