COLUMBUS — Five sets of traffic signals will be disappearing from downtown Columbus in the near future.
Columbus City Council voted Monday night to remove the signals at 13th Street and 23rd Avenue, 13th Street and 25th Avenue and 11th Street and 23rd Avenue and use stop signs to control the intersections.
The council decided in December to eliminate the signals along 14th Street at 23rd and 25th avenues as part of the plan aimed at saving money by taking down the aging devices and replacing them with stop signs instead of paying for costly upgrades.
City Engineer Rick Bogus said the five sets of traffic signals will be taken down “soon” and replaced with temporary stop signs. The stop signs will control traffic where the signals currently flash red.
Additional work, including upgrades to the pedestrian crossings to improve handicapped-accessibility and extend the “nodes” so stop signs are more visible for motorists, is expected to occur next year. Bogus said a consultant must be hired to design the intersection upgrades.
In the meantime, he said the city will work on fixing issues with other signals, including the pedestrian crossing at 13th Street and 27th Avenue.
Lincoln-based Iteris Inc. evaluated the traffic signals at 11 downtown intersections and determined the devices aren’t warranted at any of the locations. Six intersections were identified where the signals could come down, and the city council approved the removal at each location except 13th Street and 27th Avenue.
All of the downtown signals that stay likely need to be upgraded with modern equipment that’s more reliable and uses a GPS system to better synchronize their timing.
City estimates put the total cost to take down the signals at the three intersections approved Monday night and improve the pedestrian crossings at $170,000 to $215,000, with a majority of the expenses associated with the concrete work.
“If we’re making a major change to an intersection by taking down the signal, then it requires us to bring it up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards,” Bogus said.
The estimated cost to upgrade the signals and improve the intersections is $420,000 to $480,000.
The city has $900,000 budgeted over the next three fiscal years to complete the traffic signal work and reconstruct downtown intersections. Plans are to save the equipment from the signals that are removed in case it can be used to extend the life of other devices.