By Katie Dahlstrom
Clinton drivers will have one more traffic signal to encounter as they cruise along Lincoln Way.
Clinton City Council members during their meeting Friday morning awarded a $211,928 contract to Tri City Electric Co. for the traffic signal at Harrison Drive, a light city staff have been investigating for nearly five years.
The city received $110,000 from the state’s Urban-State Traffic Enforcement Program, which funds 55 percent of the cost for projects that solve traffic operations and safety problems on primary roads. The remainder of the project will come from a bond the City Council previously approved.
Clinton resident Mike Kearney, a former councilman, asked the council to table or reject the measure because of the number of traffic signals already along Lincoln Way. Further, the contended, crash data doesn’t suggest a safety issue at the intersection without the light.
Other reasons outside of crash data justify a traffic signal, City Engineer Jason Craft explained.
“The crash history does not indicate that signals are warranted. The data won’t show that it has reduced crashes because there haven’t been any major ones at that intersection,” Craft said. “It does meet a lot of signal warrants, though.”
The traffic counts at the intersection fell just above the threshold for warranting a signal, he said, adding Harrison Drive’s new light would become part of the seven-signal network that runs from 14th Street to Mill Creek Parkway and would be coordinated to improve traffic flow.
“The evidence for installing a traffic signal outweighs the evidence for not installing a traffic signal,” he said.
Drivers from Allied Waste, Behr Iron and Metal, Clinton Engineering, Archer Daniels Midland and other companies have to turn onto Lincoln Way from Harrison Drive because Union Pacific closed access to the gravel path that runs underneath the highway.
“It’s darn near impossible to go straight across that intersection or go to the west,” said John Totten, who works for Clinton Engineering. “The other issue we have is when they built the bridges just west of the intersection they came up with a decorative wall. It’s basically like having blinders when you look to west. You can’t see the oncoming traffic so it is a dangerous situation.”
The DOT acknowledged the potential for accidents to occur with a new signal, which the city investigated and determined would not be the case, Craft explained.
“The only real argument for not having signals there is trucks that might not be used to it that are going to be coming down the Lincoln Way hill heading westbound...in a situation where they aren’t paying attention they might not stop in time. But with all those other signals there, I think they will see the signal and they should be able to stop,” Craft said.