By Rebecca Croomes
Athens Public Works Director James Rich said the transition to stop signs from traffic lights at four Athens intersections has been smooth.
In addition to the intersection pictured above, the intersections of Sanders and Pryor streets, Fifth Avenue and Sanders Street and the intersection at Bryan and Madison streets are now free of signal lights in favor of signs.
The Sanders-Pryor crossing is now a two-way stop; the Sanders-Fifth Avenue crossing is also a two-way; the intersection of Bryan and Madison streets is now a fully functional four-way stop.
The largest crossing among Houston, South and Brownsferry streets is also a four-way stop, with Lee Street becoming a one-way lane going eastbound by Craig Battery.
The change comes after three months of study initiated by a vote from the city council, Rich said. Data showed traffic volume through these areas was small enough to make the transition to stop signs and would help reduce incidents of speeding in residential areas.
Rich also said the study showed these intersections had signals that were outdated, even by 40 years. The cost of updating to new lights was too expensive, about $20,000 - $25,000 per intersection, plus another $2,000 annually to operate. Comparatively, Rich said only a minimal amount of money is required to maintain a stop sign.
Work began with crews putting up bag-covered signs and eventually removing those to bag the lighted signal. Drivers have taken notice and are obeying the new laws. Rich said speeding along Houston Street has gone down, and the transition from lights to signs has been working well so far.