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Traffic signal changes ahead: City to test flashing lights at night
If the city council approves funding, the city staff will begin replacing the existing left-turn signal heads to make the conversion to add a blinking yellow arrow. The main purpose of the change is to enhance driver safety when making a left-turn movement through an intersection. - Photo courtesy of the city of Mesquite
The city of Mesquite is about to begin a two-month trial to test the effectiveness of utilizing flashing lights during late-night hours along its major thoroughfares. The test is the result of a staff inquiry of adjacent cities following several requests for the flashing lights.
"We currently operate 118 signal lights within a subsystem that we can coordinate so you can move through the intersections efficiently," said Tim Timulty, director of public works. "We have had some interest from citizens about using a night flash like they have seen in other cities."
The primary benefit of the night flash operation is it minimizes delay on both the main thoroughfare as well as the intersecting cross street. Timulty said that the city staff would test the yellow and red flashing light system at six intersections to see how it works. The intersections will go to the yellow and red flashing lights from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. The city staff will review the results during the test and can adjust the times as needed.
The intersections the city will use to test the flashing lights are East Cartwright Road at Bear Drive, East Cartwright Road at Twin Oaks Drive, East Cartwright Road at Wilkinson Road, West Cartwright Road at Stoneleigh, Bryan-Belt Line Road at Newsom Road and Bryan-Belt Line Road at Gross Street.
"We have 30 locations we would like to have the flash lights at but we thought we would start with those six and see how it goes," Timulty said.
Timulty originally proposed a three-month test before adding additional intersections, but at the request of Mayor John Monaco, he agreed to a two-month test before bringing other intersections online if the test shows positive results.
"We will monitor the intersections for anything significant that may happen," Timulty said.
Flashing yellow arrow
Timulty presented the council with a staff plan to upgrade left-turn signals at intersections within the city to a four-light traffic head that will feature a red turn arrow, green turn arrow, red turn arrow and a flashing yellow turn arrow.
"The flashing left arrow is being introduced nationally to help drivers make a safer left turn movement," Timulty said. "Most people see the green and associate it with go."
Timulty told the council that the yellow flashing arrow would soon become the standard that the city will be required to upgrade to, so by converting the signals now Mesquite will already be in compliance.
"As our residents drive around the Metroplex, they are already seeing these in other cities," Timulty said.
The cost to convert all of the city's intersections to the new system will be $90,000, and it will take the city two years to complete. The city has no funding budgeted for the project, but Timulty indicated the staff would like to begin the process next fiscal year if funding is available.
"We would like to see it done over the next couple of years starting with next year's budget," Timulty said.
The city would keep the old signal heads to use for replacement parts or to build other signals, when necessary.