augusta free press news

How far are we from a stoplight fix?

We know we have a problem with the downtown stoplight, and we know what we need to do to fix it. Turns out we also have everything in place to do the job – aside from the political will to do the job.
The city purchased the signal poles and mast arms needed at the intersection of West Main Street and Wayne Avenue back when it was engaged in the work on the first phase of the downtown streetscape project, The Augusta Free Press has learned.

That work wrapped more than three years ago. A second phase of streetscape improvements has long been in the city’s plans for downtown, dating back to the original application for state and federal funding support for the streetscape work that is now a decade old.

The signal poles and mast arms are currently sitting unused as the city tries to figure out the next step – as traffic in downtown routinely comes to a long standstill.

“The problem with them now is that there are control devices that are embedded in the road and then are contained in each corner of the intersection. And so the way it works is that the only thing that trips the lights are cameras that are on South and North Wayne Avenue, the idea being that the greatest volume of traffic is up and down Main Street, so when cars enter from the Wayne Avenue side, there’s a car there, it trips the signal, and then the light is very simply sequenced to go around, and each turn gets the same amount of time. That’s a fairly inefficient way of running the signals. And so the second phase of the streetscape would have replaced all of the equipment that’s embedded in the road, so that any approach can trip the signal,” assistant city manager Jim Shaw said.

The city is pretty much where it has been for three years with the stoplight – in the process of obtaining cost estimates on the work that is to be done. The dollar figure that will be tied to the project is not likely to include the completion of the streetscape project. There has not been any substantive talk about reviving the streetscape project to improve sidewalks in downtown in the area that includes City Hall, the Wayne Theatre, the Grand Piano building and ends at the top of the hill at the intersection of Main Street and Church Street in front of the Augusta Free Press Publishing building in some time.


– Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press