City to con­duct traf­fic test at square

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GUTKNECHT [email protected]­

The City of Cov­ing­ton has been test­ing four-way stop in­ter­sec­tions at the Pace/Usher Streets and Floyd/Elm Streets in­ter­sec­tions and will con­tinue the test­ing for one more week to see if the traf­fic lights are nec­es­sary.

Deputy City Man­ager Billy Bouch­illon said when there is a power out­age and the lights at those in­ter­sec­tions turn into flash­ing red lights, in­stead of work­ing stop lights, the in­ter­sec­tions work as four-ways. The city wants to see if re­mov­ing the stop lights will cut down on the bot­tle-neck­ing on the down­town square.

“We’ve re­moved those (traf­fic lights) around the square, and for the most part we be­lieve that we’ve had pretty good re­sults from those,” City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight said. “I did ac­tu­ally roll up to­day and there was traf­fic backed up and it was all be­cause of the traf­fic light at Elm and Floyd.”

Bouch­illon said the traf­fic test would be dif­fer­ent than what was done with the lights on the square.

“We’re not just go­ing to go up there and put bags on the lights,” he said. “We want to be able to get the po­lice de­part­ment up there at dif­fer­ent times of the day. We prob­a­bly won’t do both Pace Street and Floyd Street at the same time.”

Bouch­illon will work with the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice De­part­ment (CPD) to see how the in­ter­sec­tions work with­out the lights. The in­ter­sec­tions cur­rently have turn lanes, which raises a con­cern for turn­ing it into a four-way stop. He said if the four-way in­ter­sec­tion be­comes a re­al­ity, the lanes of the road could be changed to add more park­ing around the square in­stead of the turn lanes.

Bouch­illon cred­ited the cur­rent traf­fic on the square to the in­flux of busi­nesses and events hap­pen­ing down­town, not the re­moval of the traf­fic lights that were pre­vi­ously on the square.

“I firmly be­lieve that if the traf­fic lights were still up there that that place would stay bot­tle-necked,” he said.

Coun­cil­man Chris Smith said he was con­cerned that peo­ple would “blow through” the in­ter­sec­tion if it was just a four-way stop.

Coun­cil­woman Hawnethia Wil­liams said twoweek pe­riod is ba­si­cally a “test drive” to see if the lights can be re­moved. She said the goal is to make it eas­ier for vis­i­tors to get down­town.

“The ob­jec­tive is not to keep peo­ple off the square, but if you’re us­ing the square as a means to get from the north side to the south side, maybe you ought to think about an al­ter­na­tive way of get­ting there,” Knight said. “Be­cause that does tend to bot­tle-neck it more when you’re just us­ing it for through-traf­fic.

“The ob­jec­tive is for those peo­ple who want to go down­town, we want to make it easy for them to go down­town and we want to make it easy for ev­ery­body to get around town too. If you’re not go­ing down­town to shop or eat or what­ever, take an al­ter­nate route around the square.”

The city ini­tially re­quested a 30-day pe­riod to test the in­ter­sec­tions, but that test­ing pe­riod was knocked down to two weeks and ap­proved by the coun­cil. The two-week pe­riod would al­low the city to pro­vide the coun­cil an up­date at its next meet­ing March 20.

Bouch­illon said the city has not done an of­fi­cial traf­fic study or had a traf­fic en­gi­neer in­spect the two in­ter­sec­tions.

In other news, the city also ap­proved a year-long road clo­sure of Hunter Street for the con­struc­tion of the court­house ad­di­tion. The clo­sure will run from March 6, 2017 to March 6, 2018. Once the road clo­sure has ex­pired, the city will con­sider chang­ing Hunter Street from a oneway into a two-way street.

Jackie Gutknecht | The Cov­ing­ton News

The in­ter­sec­tion of Floyd Streets and Elm Streets will be part of a traf­fic study for the next two weeks as well as the in­ter­sec­tion of Pace and Usher Street.

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