Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

September 1, 2013

Green arrow needed Don’t ignore dangerous intersection

— A recent study completed by the West Virginia Division of Highways points to human error as the reason for an alarming increase in traffic accidents at the intersection of U.S. Route 52 and Route 123 in Brushfork.

But ask anyone who travels on Route 52 on a daily basis, and they will tell you otherwise. To them the reason the intersection is dangerous is obvious — it lacks a proper green turn arrow for both southbound and northbound traffic that is attempting to turn either left or right onto the Airport Road, or Brushfork-Falls Mills Road.

 As a result, motorists traveling either southbound or northbound, and attempting to turn either left or right, must wait for an opening in oncoming traffic on a green light before they can turn either toward Airport Road and Route 123 or to the Brushfork-Falls Mills Road leading to the Virginia state line. Unfortunately, if a motorist becomes inpatient, he or she will often attempt to turn on a green light into the path of oncoming traffic. This has resulted in a number of serious accidents in recent years.

The solution to this problem is simple. The DOH needs to install a green arrow for southbound and northbound traffic. Then impatient motorists wouldn’t be tempted to make a run for it into the path of oncoming traffic. They could safely turn once they had a legal green turn arrow.

The traffic study conducted last spring by the DOH concluded there was nothing wrong with the turning or configuration of the lights, according to DOH District 10 Manager Tom Camden.

Instead, Camden said the study suggested the issue at the intersection may be less mechanical and more human. Camden also pointed to people trying to beat the red light. But this wouldn’t be a problem if an appropriate green turn signal was installed for southbound and northbound traffic.

Studies are a dime a dozen. We are more interested in the human element, and what those who travel Route 52 on a daily basis are saying. And most appear to agree that a green turn signal is needed.

The DOH is failing to take the human element into consideration in its continued — and baffling refusal — to install a green turn arrow for northbound and southbound traffic. And by failing to take the human element into consideration, the DOH is allowing a very dangerous situation to continue.

Just last week, a Daily Telegraph reporter and photographer was stationed for more than an hour in a shopping center area near the heavily traveled intersection. They observed traffic, and took photographs and video of traffic flow. The reporter and photographer witnessed impatient motorists turning into the path of oncoming traffic. They counted three vehicles that ran a red light within 15 minutes of their arrival, and saw several other vehicles speed through the intersection on a yellow caution light. They noted that the red light changed from red to green and back at brief intervals of 15  to 30 seconds.

The solution is obvious. Install a green traffic arrow so that northbound and southbound traffic will be allowed to safely turn either left or right. That is all it will take.

We don’t need another study. We just need a green turn arrow. It’s as simple as that.

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