Team Coverage | They fixed the downtown stoplight

AFP editor Chris Graham has been on City Hall to do something about the maddening stoplight at the intersection of Main and Wayne in Downtown Waynesboro. Good news – they’ve finally done something! Graham covers the story with a video interview of assistant city manager Jim Shaw and a written report including perspectives from several city residents.

 

Video

 

News: Traffic runs through it

It’s been so long – OK, two weeks – since I’ve had to complain about the Main Street-Wayne Avenue stoplight that I hardly remember how bad it was to have to drive through.

“The signal was horrible and did nothing but give the average person a reason to avoid downtown,” said Terry Short, a Virginia Department of Transportation planner, downtown business owner and Waynesboro Planning Commission member, conveniently reminding me of the years of frustration that we had to deal with at Main and Wayne, dating back to the completion of Phase I of the downtown streetscape project in early 2006.

The bumpouts included in the new streetscape took away the left-turn lanes on Main Street, and the solution for three lon-n–n-ng years was to cycle each of the four lanes of traffic through the intersection essentially one at a time.

Short on his own initiative ran computer models on how traffic should flow at the intersection, then shared what he found with the city. From there, assistant city manager Jim Shaw told me Monday afternoon, with traffic running behind us at the intersection in front of City Hall, “It was a matter of switching out some equipment, all of which we had in-house.”

“At least in the observations we’ve made periodically and randomly, it looks to us like it’s functioning pretty well, and I’ve rarely seen a wait that was as long as 30 seconds in the intersection,” said Shaw, confirming what I’ve been observing at the light myself.

Living up the street from the Main-Wayne intersection, I have a hard time avoiding it when I’m doing things like running to the post office or the library or the YMCA down Wayne Avenue, but for the past couple of years I’d do what I could to not have to sit at that light for up to two minutes during peak traffic times.

“The timing was a mess. I thought it was the worst engineering light in Waynesboro. I can’t tell you how many times I waited excessively with no traffic coming from toher directions,” Club Court area resident Jim Belcher said.

“I would bypass Main Street when coming from the West End as I very often would get stuck at the red light while the other three directions went through a couple of cycles,” said city resident Pete Armetta, who is among those who feels that the new configuration has improved traffic flows at the intersection.

“There’s no question that its better. I find myself not finding ways around the intersection now,” said Short, a Tree Streets resident, echoing my sentiments toward the Main-Wayne intersection from back in the day, sentiments that had me driving out of my way to avoid the stoplight at all costs.

Belcher, for one, isn’t sold on the current fix being the final fix. “Slight improvement. Not earth-shattering, and still inefficient,” said Belcher, reminding me of something that Shaw told me off-camera about how traffic flows at the intersection could be further improved with the installation of a more sophisticated management system that could be programmed to cut down on traffic cycles in non-peak times.

In the current economic environment, I don’t see that being brought up for discussion anytime soon. And being the guy who has made the most noise about this, dating back to an early 2007 column written out of utter frustration over having had to sit at the light for two minutes one morning with no traffic coming in any direction, I’m willing to go ahead and declare this one a mission accomplished and move on.

 

– Video and Story by Chris Graham


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