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The new stop signs at the intersection of Fifth Street and Second Avenue South, including this one, are more safe, efficient and cost effective than the traffic signals previously used, Clinton City Engineer Jason Craft said. The stop signs feature a solar-powered flashing red light to warn drivers of the four-way stop.

Katie Dahlstrom/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

Residents may have been wondering where the traffic signals at the intersection of Fifth Street and Second Avenue South went and why they’re now being guided by stop signs with flashing lights and solar panels.  

According to City Engineer Jason Craft, the four-way stop that’s now in place is all the intersection needed.

“The traffic counts just didn’t warrant signals,” Craft said. “This is now a safer, more cost effective, more efficient intersection.”

The stop signs were put in place after a traffic signal warrant analysis confirmed Craft’s suspicions. The stop signs are equipped with red flashing lights that are solar powered, costing nothing for the city to operate and creating an extra layer of warning for drivers approaching the intersection.  

Similar stop signs were implemented at the intersection of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue South last year after Craft said the traffic at that intersection also did not warrant, and was in fact disrupted by, traffic signals.  

The intersection has seen a reduction in crashes since the stop signs replaced the traffic signals, he said.

“I think the traffic signals were the cause of more than half of accidents,” Craft said.

The city is looking at reducing the number of traffic signals across town in order to improve safety and increase efficiency. Next year, Craft hopes to remove the traffic signals from Fifth Street and Seventh Avenue South.  

The city also is attempting to increase safety along Mill Creek Parkway. The Clinton City Council approved the application for an $80,000 grant through the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Improvement program.  The grant would be used to install an intersection conflict warning system at the two-way stop intersections of Mill Creek Parkway and 13th Avenue North as well as one at Mill Creek Parkway and Second Avenue South.

The project would warrant a $20,000 contribution from the city.  If the grant was awarded, it would be used to install flashing yellow lights along Mill Creek Parkway with signs reading “Caution crossing traffic when flashing.”

“That intersection clearly does not warrant signalization,” Craft said. “But we want that traffic to slow down on Mill Creek Parkway.”

The money would also pay for red flashing lights before the stop sign on 13th Avenue North with signage reading “traffic approaching when flashing.”

Both sets of flashing lights would be set off by a sensor system.  

“It’s an innovative new device,” Craft said.

While the city applied for funding for both projects, Craft said the technology would be utilized best at the 13th Avenue North intersection. In five years, 12 accidents have occurred there, with one fatality in 2007.  Second Avenue North has not had as many, but one accident did result in a fatality.