Council considers additional four-way stops

The Buckhannon City Council is asking the West Virginia Division of Highways to consider making the intersection at Main and Kanawha streets a four-way stop, similar to what is already in place at two other downtown intersections.

But the council members were divided on keeping the intersections of Main and Spring streets and Main and Florida streets as four-way stops during a recent meeting. Council members Ron Pugh and Pam Cuppari voted against the motion to ask the state to make those four-way stops a permanent thing in Buckhannon.

“I am hard-pressed to vote for four-way stops,” Pugh said, noting he has received numerous calls in opposition to that type of traffic flow. “I told the people I would do their will.”

Street Commissioner Jerry Arnold said he would recommend the state department turn off power to the flashing lights and install permanent stop signs. He said he also would seek to remove the turn lane at the Florida Street intersection.

“The traffic is flowing much better on Main Street,” he said.

The council also was split on whether it was easier for pedestrians to cross Main Street because of the four-way stops. Newly appointed Councilman Tom O’Neill said he thought it was harder because pedestrians “don’t have the protection of the lights.” He asked if additional signage warning drivers to be aware of walkers would be needed.

City Recorder Rich Clemens, however, said he thought it is easier to cross the street.

“You do have to be assertive,” he said. “You have to take your opportunity and go. (The flashing lights) have slowed traffic down on Main Street. Pedestrians are a lot safer with the speed of traffic today.”

Councilman David Thomas said he believes it is more difficult for people with disabilities trying to cross the street.

“A lot of it is people not being considerate to pedestrians,” he said. “I don’t know how to change that behavior.”

City leaders want to unify the intersection situation, as many said having two four-way stops and one controlled by a traffic light makes traveling Main Street confusing at times. Many of the council members related stories of drivers traveling through red lights from the side streets.