Monday, August 30, 2010

Four Way Stops - continued

Useless Stop Signs  - (and  procrastination by committee)

Just over two years ago, a proposal was made to the Wasatch County Council to consider changing four way stops to two way stops, particularly on 1200 South. The proposal included a study done by the Institute of Traffic Engineers regarding all-way stops which indicated that multi-highway stops do not control speed except under very limited conditions.   (Minutes below)

It was discussed that the stop signs were routinely ignored going east and west as many drivers recognized there was little traffic traveling north and south. Having unnecessary stop signs tends to create a general disregard for NEEDED signs.   A 'committee' was set up to discuss the issue. No one seems to know if it ever met.

Last year, in October, this item was reintroduced to the Council by Councilman Anderton, complete with a petition from local residents favoring the idea of two way stop. (Minutes below)

The Council seemed generally in agreement to consider the issue. This time there was a motion for a traffic study to update the almost ten year old previous study. Nearly a year later , there are rumors that a study was done, but apparently no one has seen it as copies do not seem to be available. 

Recently, a private study was done indicated that 86% of the traffic on 1200 South travel east and west and about 80% of the cars passing through the intersection at 2400 E fail to come to complete stop, many barely slow down.

About two weeks ago the Council clarified once again that traffic plans designate 1200 South as a "major collector," which means basically a through street designed to facilitate the easy flow of traffic through the area. Having four way stops impedes that flow, wastes fuel, spews unnecessary exhaust from the trucks and diesel buses to the LDS Girls' Camp, and creates noise for the poor souls who live at the corners. The recent plan also called for widening 1200 South to three lanes within 10 years or so. Removing the stop signs would provide more efficient movement than widening the road, which would also have a substantial cost.  "Another study (62) found that the average annual road user cost increased by $2,402.92 (1988 cost) per intersection when converting from two to four way stop signs for low volume intersections."

Reasons to Keep 4 way stop (and rebuttal):
  • They keep the speed down. "Before-After studies show multi-way stop signs do not reduce speeds on residential streets. Nineteen references found this to be their finding."  Institute of Traffic Engineers; "there is no real evidence to indicate that STOP signs decrease the overall speed of traffic. Impatient drivers view the additional delay caused by unwarranted STOP signs as “lost time” to be made up by driving at higher speeds between STOP signs. ." Institute of Traffic Engineers  If speeds DO increase, there a source of revenue in speeding tickets. ; -)
  • They enhance safety. "Unwarranted STOP signs breed disrespect by motorists who tend to ignore them or only slow down without stopping. This can sometimes lead to tragic consequences." Institute of Traffic Engineers 
  • My mother-in-law, cousin or . . .  likes them.
  • We had/have extra signs
  • The Feds made (paid) us to do it.   Show us the report, study and rationale for doing it.
It is long past time for the county to complete the study, stop the procrastination, and work towards creating a traffic plan that facilitates traffic movement rather than hampers it. If the perceived problem is speed, the answer is enforcement NOT stop signs. Heber City made an appropriate decision to raise the speed limit on Mill Road from 25 to 35 mph last year, perhaps they should also do the same on the newly renovated five lane Center Street. Roads are, or should be, for moving traffic.

AUGUST 6, 2008 County Council meeting minutes
Kent Berg, the Wasatch County Public Works Director, addressed the Wasatch County Council and indicated that the speed limits in 2001 Wasatch County was resurveyed and in 2003 when the roads in the Center Creek area were upgraded Wasatch County did another survey because the roads were made wider and gone from twenty feet to twenty-six feet.

The residential speed limit in the Center Creek area is thirty-five miles per hour with four-way stops at each one of those intersections because of ASTO guidelines. (Ed Note: No organization called ASTO was found by GOOGLE) Kent Berg indicated that having four-way stops almost eliminates accidents at those intersections and are serving a great purpose even though a lot of people don’t like them.

Robert Wren, a concerned citizen living in the Center Creek area, addressed the Wasatch County Council and indicated that he is the one that brought the subject up about the four-way stops. Robert indicated that he has watched as he has driven up 1200 South and very few people are stopping at these four-way signs and just running the stop signs at thirty-five miles per hour. Robert then went on to discuss a study done by the Institute of Traffic Engineers regarding all-way stops and the study indicated that multi-highway stops do not control speed except under very limited conditions.

Robert then asked the Wasatch County Council to make the intersections on 1200 South two-way stops instead of four-way stops.

Al Mickelsen, the Wasatch County Planner, addressed the Wasatch County Council and indicated that before Wasatch County puts up four-way stops signs or any stop signs Wasatch County has got to make sure that the roads where the stop signs are being put in don’t impede the function of that  road which means you don’t want to put a stop sign on a major collector road which is made to move the traffic. The only major collector roads Wasatch County has is Lake Creek, 1200 South and 2400 south and Mill Road.

The Wasatch County Council indicated that they would like more study to be done and instructed Al Mickelsen, Kent Bert and Councilman Anderton get together and look at the situation and then bring the matter back before the Wasatch County Council.

10/21/2009  Council Minutes  

Councilman Anderton indicated that people have indicated to me that they would like the Wasatch County Council to reconsider this matter. Councilman Farrell indicated that a  committee was formed to consider this matter which consisted of you and the Wasatch County
Sheriff and Kent Berg, the Wasatch County Public Works Director and you were to come back with a recommendation.

Todd Bonner, the Wasatch County Sheriff, indicated that his  recommendation would be that four-way stops be put in place at these locations according to the study that has been done. (Ed. note- what study. 2001??)   Kent Berg, the Wasatch County Public Works Director, indicated that a traffic study hasn’t been done since the year 2001 and possibly Wasatch County should have an up-to-date traffic study done. Kent Berg indicated that Wasatch County is working with the LDS Church to have them send all their buses that go to the LDS Camp up Center Street to take care of some of the traffic on 1200 South. Councilman Farrell made a motion that we authorize Kent Berg, the Wasatch County Public Work’s Director and Mike Davis, the Wasatch County Manager, to put an RFP out to get a bid to see what a new traffic study for Wasatch County would be. 

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