BUCKHANNON-Buckhannon is now a "four-way stop community," Mayor Kenny Davidson said Friday.
After a six-month period, the state Department of Highways on Tuesday removed the flashing red lights at the corner of two major intersections in downtown Buckhannon - the intersection of Main and Spring streets and the intersection of Main and Florida streets.
From now on, these four-way intersections will be governed solely by stop signs, Davidson said.
Prior to the installation of the flashing red lights, regular stoplights ruled the road. However, a couple years ago, a group of citizens approached the city with research indicating that four-way stops often allow traffic proceed more smoothly in downtown areas.
"We were presented with some information that had been collected by some citizens that four-way stops actually make your streets more pedestrian-friendly and facilitate traffic flow," the mayor said. "I can't remember how many times I sat at a red light when there was not another car in sight, but you still had to sit and wait.
"It's being done all over the country," he added.
However, before the DOH would allow the city to exchange its stoplights for stop signs, it mandated the installation of four-way flashing lights for a period of six months. The flashing lights were intended to help citizens grow accustomed to the changeover to four-way intersections, Davidson said. Now that those have been removed, the mayor said citizens must now adjust to having no lights of any kind at the two downtown intersections.
"We just need to get used to it," he said. "People are becoming a little more courteous. I truly believe it's going to work better."
In addition to the stop signs on the ground, larger overhead stop signs and street name signs will soon be hung from the horizontal metal poles, Davidson said. Federal law mandates that stop signs be placed on the ground even if they are displayed above an intersection, he added.
The city has filed a request currently pending with the DOH to remove the stoplight at the intersection of Kanawha and Main streets in favor of turning that into a four-way intersection as well.
"I think it's confusing for people to have a stoplight there after going through two intersections where they just stop and go, stop and go," Davidson said.
So far, the removal of the flashing lights on Main Street has been a seamless transition, according to Street Commissioner Jerry Arnold.
"It's business as usual," Arnold said Friday. "I haven't noticed any difference, and I think it will be better with the stop signs overhead."
"It seems to be working even more smoothly than it did before," city engineer Jay Hollen agreed. "Now, people are paying attention to the stop signs rather than the flashing lights."
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at IMT_Kuba.