Lansing Aldermen reversed on Monday night a decision made earlier this year regarding the town's only traffic light.
After lengthy discussion on traffic speed through the downtown area, the board voted to go with a recommendation by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and replace the traffic light with a three-way stop.
The vote was three to one with Alderman Brenda Reeves opposed. Aldermen Steve Greer was not present as he had last month sent an email to Mayor George Rembert resigning from the board.
At the same time the board members ask DOT to go ahead with the three-way stop, they will request a painted pedestrian crossing at the Lansing Foods store next to the intersection of NC 194N and D Street.
As a way to slow traffic through the town, the board last month discussed a three-way stop at the intersection of NC 194N and D Street. Although Mayor Rembert said the board will not ask for that at this time, Alderman Mark Goss said DOT would be willing if the town agreed to the removal of the traffic light and a three-way stop at the other intersection.
Goss said he had spoken to DOT Traffic Engineer Dean Ledbetter about the intersections, and that Ledbetter said DOT considers D Street a side street with little traffic. He said placing a stop sign on NC 194N would stop traffic but with few if any vehicles waiting to exit D Street, the motorists might eventually quit stopping, and he didn't see this as a viable option to slowing traffic.
But having a stop sign further down, at the other intersection, would make a difference at the D Street intersection, Goss said he was told by Craig Hughes, transportation planner with High Country Council of Governments.
“He (Ledbetter) said, if you want to control traffic in Lansing, you have to go back to our (NCDOT) option and remove the traffic light and create a three-way stop,” Goss said.
The board has also asked DOT about reducing the speed limit coming into town from 45 to 35 mph, and Hughes is looking into that request.
Board members said vehicles have been clocked well above the 20 mph speed limit through town, and some motorists appear to ignore the traffic light while others increase speed to try and get through before it turns red. A state trooper came after the fatal accident on June 16 and handed out dozens of tickets, but it doesn't seem to have made any difference, board members said.
With the sentiments of the town residents in mind, many of whom voiced opposition to the removal of the traffic light when surveyed through utility bills, the board discussed the arguments against removal.
Mayor Rembert said one argument was that it would be more difficult for tractor trailers to make the turn, and that stops signs placed far enough out in the road to be visible would impede traffic and be continually knocked down.
Rembert said he did not believe either of these arguments were viable, and Goss said he has driven a tractor trailer and it is difficult making that turn no matter what.
“Maybe some feel it would be a step back to remove the traffic light,” said Goss. “I grew up here and its been there since who knows when. But the traffic has become heavier and heavier and we want people to feel safe crossing the road. I don't think we have a whole lot of options besides this to control traffic.”
Alderman Brenda Reeves' argument against removing the light is that motorists will simply speed along A Street to avoid the stop signs. Motorists already drive too fast on A Street, she said, putting children and other residents at risk, and putting in stop signs at both intersections would only make that situation worse.
The board discussed seeking grants to help find funds to pay for bigger and better speed bumps on A Street, as well as other aspects of the Lansing Pedestrian Plan, and approved the assistance of Lansing area resident Ann Rose who offered to research available grant funds.