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Downtown merchants object to traffic light removalTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Lights at Chestnut and Bailey, May 20
Photo by Darla Golden
Bagging the lights, July 25

Representatives of downtown merchants urged the city council Tuesday to leave at least one set of traffic lights on Fourth St.

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The lights were removed from service in late May, and covered with black bags on July 25, steps preliminary to their removal.

The lights, which have hung above the Fourth St. intersection of Bailey and Chestnut for decades, are no longer warranted by the amount of traffic on Fourth St., the city’s contracted engineer Tom Werblow said, because U.S. Highway 30 no longer runs down Fourth St., instead bypassing downtown and connecting with Rodeo Road.

The city council agreed May 20 that the lights could be taken out of service. Stop signs were erected at Bailey and Chestnut and for the next two months, the lights flashed yellow on Fourth St., then covered.

Removal of the lights was recommended in March 2013 by the consulting firm, Schemmer Architects of Lincoln, who studied traffic patterns throughout the city.

Werblow said he’s only had two objections to removing the lights, but several in favor.   

But Mike Honerman, Alan Hirschfeld and Chris Chada of the downtown business association compared the street to a drag strip.

They said the street would be safer if at least one set of lights were active, and be more accommodating to customers of such stores as Hot Tub Pros, Sherwin Williams Paints and Husker Radio.

The said most of the parking for the Hot Tub Pros and Husker Radio is across Fourth St.

Matt Junker, the new owner of Hot Tub Pros, said his customers, wife and children sometimes have to run across Fourth St. to miss traffic now that the lights are bagged. He said it’s not possible for elderly customers to do that.

Honerman told the council that traffic has sped up since the lights were bagged, often traveling 15 miles an hour above the 25 mph speed limit.  

He said removing the lights on Jeffers St. a year ago almost created a “drag strip for trucks” on the west side of downtown, and now the situation is similar on Fourth.

Crossing the street is especially hazardous during the busy hours of 7-8 a.m., noon hour and 4-5 p.m.

Hirschfeld said one downtown worker to him she goes home via the Bailey St. intersection, and cannot turn left onto Fourth because the taffic is too heavy. He urged council members to see the situation for themselves.

“This is a substantial thing,” he said.

Junker said the cost will be high if the lights need to be reinstalled in the future.

But Werblow said the lights are old now, with parts made in Brazil, and need to be modernized if they remain, which will cost about $16,000 per intersection.

Councilmen Brook Baker and Tim Barrett said the situation needs to be looked at carefully.

The council took no action. They are expected to consider a resolution at the next meeting in two weeks.  

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/5/2014
Copyright © 2014 northplattebulletin.com - All rights reserved.
Flatrock Publishing, Inc. - 1300 E 4th St., Suite F - North Platte, NE 69101
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They should put up better signage on 4th for west bound traffic approaching Dewey too. I personally don't think its that difficult to see that there is a right turn lane and a straight lane but it doesn't seem like very many other people do.
Posted by Mike    - 8/7/2014 10:24:07 AM
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Why not invest some of our tax money into a pedestrian bridge? One over fourth street and one over Jeffers? Seems like a better investment than loaning it to the Game and Parks to build a boat ramp at the interstate lake. Or loaning it to some commercial landowner who hopes to bring in some mediocre company.
Posted by not12brag    - 8/7/2014 7:31:10 AM
(0 current warnings - 2 warnings total)

You hear people often complain about the traffic in this town, as if it were some big city. The problem is not the amount of traffic but the speed at which traffic moves (or perhaps I should say the lack of speed). Does anyone else find it ridiculous to wait for the light to turn green, then have it be red at the next intersection just enough for you to come to a complete stop for it to turn green. Why aren't the lights on the one's synchronized to accommodate the flow of traffic? It takes way too long to get around in North Platte for no bigger than it is, Maybe just me but I wish traffic would move a little more frequently with less stops… as far as these sets of lights, get rid of them. Yes there is plenty of traffic on fourth street, but its minimal on bailey and chestnut. I find that stop signs on those streets are sufficient.
Posted by Emerson    - 8/6/2014 12:12:17 PM
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Needs more parking lot. LOL!
Posted by dragracer    - 8/6/2014 10:51:49 AM
(0 current warnings - 2 warnings total)

Take the lights away! I drove through there the other day and didn't even think about stopping at every. single. intersection. 99% of the time when you would hit a red light there, no other cars would pass by through the green, so the lights are absolutely pointless there.
Posted by Mike    - 8/6/2014 6:25:19 AM
(0 current warnings - 3 warnings total)

Leave them out. I actually will drive down that that section of 4th Street now. Before I would go out of my way to avoid downtown area just because of all the lights.
Posted by Butters    - 8/6/2014 5:07:16 AM
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BS. Leave the lights out. Ridiculous all this start stop crap everywhere
Posted by wizdumb    - 8/6/2014 4:51:09 AM
(0 current warnings - 5 warnings total)

Business owners cant have their cake and eat it too... Originally, they were thinking that removing the lights would increase the amount of traffic that drives by, which consequently would increase the amount of people who come into their businesses. Now the business owners are squawking because people can't walk across the street to get into their business?? Come on now!! And really?? A drag strip?? There are too many blue haired white knuckled steering wheel gripping retirees in this town for any road to be a "drag strip" during business hours.
Posted by MyTwoCents    - 8/6/2014 4:30:47 AM
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You two obviously don't work downtown. I do, and in the area in question, and I can tell you for a fact that the traffic has sped up going through there and crossing the street, even at an intersection is like playing Frogger. The city should seriously consider leaving at least one of the stop lights.
Posted by bigtroubleinlittlenp    - 8/6/2014 4:25:46 AM
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Yeah, a drag strip, I actually got behind someone going twenty five - brum, brum. North Platte drivers are the slowest on the planet.
Posted by are you kidding?    - 8/6/2014 3:05:11 AM
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A drag strip!? What a clown...
Posted by some1elsedoit    - 8/5/2014 10:49:15 PM
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