City reinstalls downtown stop signs to reduce congestion, speeding

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Drivers may have noticed several stop lights downtown are now stop signs again.

The city has gone back and forth between traffic signals and stop signs as they try to determine which option is better.

Crews were out Tuesday at different intersections downtown, including one at Eighth and Coal, where they swapped out stop lights with four-way stop signs for the second time in less than two years.

“One thing that we do not want to have happen is we do not want traffic to build up into the residential neighborhood, and a stop light has a tendency to build up quite a few cars whereas a stop sign only builds up one or two at a time,” said the city’s Department of Municipal Development spokesperson Johnny Chandler.

The city first changed the lights to stop signs in 2016 at nine different intersections to slow down drivers.

Last September, under former Mayor Richard Berry’s administration, they switched three of them back to stoplights, including Eighth and Lead and Eighth and Coal.

Now, after another traffic study, Mayor Tim Keller’s administration is reinstalling the stop signs at Eighth and Coal, as well as on Roma at Fourth and Fifth streets.

It’s confusing to drivers, but neighbors say they’re on board with these changes and it’s necessary for safety.

“It reduces car accidents because people will slow down for a stop sign, whereas they’ll run through a yellow to beat the red,” said Yvonne Oulman, who lives downtown.

However, this time the traffic signals will remain at Eighth and Lead. The stops signs that went up along Silver Avenue in place of lights are now officially permanent as well.

Chandler says the stop light poles should be removed within a few months. He says the city’s traffic study also revealed stop signs are more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

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