Traffic is changing soon in downtown London.
The city is experimenting with removing four traffic lights on High Street, following the recommendation of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
A recent ODOT traffic safety study showed lights at the High Street intersections of Walnut, Union and Oak streets, as well as Madison Road, are no longer necessary.
Only traffic patterns at High and Main streets warranted a signal light, the study revealed.
Beginning Tuesday, July 14, the lights on High Street at the intersections of Union and Oak streets will go to a flashing yellow light. The signal facing the side streets will go to a red flashing light.
“We’re going to do that for two weeks and see what kind of issues we have there,” said Steve Hume, the city’s safety-services director.
The city may perform the same experiment later in the summer at the intersections of Madison and Walnut after that. Hume is still discussing the plans with Nate Ernst, the city’s street superintendent.
That signal at Main and High will never undergo change, Hume noted.
Factors that contribute to whether a light is needed include traffic on the main road, traffic on the side street, the amount of pedestrians and the number of turns, among others, according to the ODOT study.
Hume said the city will not know if ODOT’s recommendation will work unless it is tried.
“Everybody’s got this you can’t do that attitude because we’ve never done it that way before,” he said. “The traffic engineers are saying we don’t need them, so let’s try, and we will see what kind of issues we have.”
Hume said he anticipates fewer traffic lights resulting in less stopped traffic on High Street.
“If cars can freely flow through the city, will we really have that much traffic?” he said.
London police officers will be keeping an eye on the affected intersections, Hume added. A radar system will also be used to perform traffic counts and speed recordings at different times of the day.
“We will see if there is a change in ambient speeds of people in the downtown area,” he said. “Obviously, we want to be safe. If it’s going to increase the speed in the downtown area, that’s certainly not something we want to do.”
Hume said employees at the Madison County Courthouse have expressed concerns about walking through downtown without lights.
“They may have some legitimate concerns, and that’s fine,” Hume said. “We’ll look at the concerns and issues as they come up.”
Andrea McKinney can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.