December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria ponders traffic light at Burns and Gulf

Officials are considering adding a traffic light at the intersection of Burns and Gulf roads. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Officials are considering adding a traffic light at the intersection of Burns and Gulf roads. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — The intersection of Burns and Gulf roads is a busy place.

Each day, thousands of cars travel through the area north of Spring Valley Golf and Athletic Club and Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward thinks it’s time to look at whether the intersection needs a traffic signal.

“Both rush hours are pretty bad,” said Craig, who lives off Gulf Road and travels Burns Road nearly every day. “Anyone who has driven through that intersection during peak hours knows how it is. You think you can make a left turn, but a car will crest the hill fast. It’s just tough to negotiate that during rush hour.”

Craig has sent the idea to the City Council Utilities, Safety and Environment Committee. It will be up to the members to determine if a traffic study and count should be conducted, and if it’s in the city’s budget to have either conducted.

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said she is not aware of any previous traffic studies or the area. However, if one was done years ago, it would probably be worth having a new one completed with more accurate traffic counts.

But she cautioned that installing any kind of traffic control device at an intersection is neither easy nor cheap.

“We can’t just arbitrarily do it because we think something should be done,” Siwierka said. “The city follows the uniformed traffic control manual, and it would have to meet Ohio Department of Transportation specifications and guidelines.”

Using price points from previous projects, Siwierka said completing the traffic study and installing the devices could cost as much as $50,000, if not more. The city recently had to replace one mast arm and signal at the intersection of Broad and Center streets, and that cost the city $12,000.

The Burns and Gulf roads intersection would need at least two mast arms, multiple signals and a control box, Siwierka said.

The winding nature of the road makes it a dangerous road. But the hills and turns also make it difficult to install a signal. Siwierka said drivers would have to make sudden stops after topping hills.

However, the very problems that could make installing a signal difficult are worth exploring as a reason why the signal is needed, Craig said.

“It’s the curve in the roads. It contributes to bottlenecking traffic,” he said.

This is not the first time the idea to place a traffic signal at the intersection has been discussed by Council. Committee members looked at it and tabled the matter toward the end of 2008 and again in 2010. There was a lack of funding to push studies both times.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT..