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4-Way stop a cause of controversy

By Staff | Apr 27, 2012

Chronicle Photo By Kelly Cambrel On Monday April 9 the West Virginia Department of Highways installed new four-way stop signs along Route 480 at the intersection of Duke and High streets.

In an effort to increase pedestrian safety, The West Virginia Department of Highways installed a new four-way or “all way” stop at the intersection of Duke and High streets.

The new stop is located just one block from the university’s student crosswalk and the future site of its new pedestrian underpass.

After plans were unveiled last summer for the construction of the university’s underpass, some in the community wondered if measures would be taken to improve safety at the Duke and High streets intersection, where students and residents also often cross.

According to Ken Clohan, of the West Virginia Department of Highways, a decision was made to conduct a survey of pedestrian traffic along the intersection after the department was informed of local resident’s concern.

“There were a few residents that complained,” Clohan said.

Clohan said the Department of Highways conducted a survey of traffic patterns at the intersection to determine an appropriate solution.

“A study was performed evaluating the pedestrian counts and the vehicular counts of the intersection,” he said.

“Because of the volume of pedestrians, the four-way was shown to be needed,” he said,

Jan Offutt, who has lived on North Duke for he past 11 years said she’s happy about the new four-way stop.

“Truly, it’s all about safety,” she said. “I think it’s a really good thing because it slows this traffic down,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how quickly they get their speed up,” she went on to say.

Sarah Moerschel, another resident of North Duke Street said she has strong feelings about how the new stop sign has impacted her family’s quality of life, and they aren’t favorable.

“The stop sign increases the traffic noise in our house,” she said. “Early in the morning… It’s loud!”

Moerschel, who has raised two small children on North Duke said she now finds it more challenging to exit her driveway and also complained that the build up of traffic at the intersection has increased exhaust odor.

Moerschel questioned the real necessity of the new stop.

“We’ve never and a problem crossing the street,” she said.

According to Clohan, the decision to put in the four-way stop was based on evaluations made by the local department of highways staff and traffic engineers in Charleston. He said that once the pedestrian underpass is completed requests will be made to review the decision and it’s “likely” the four-way stop could be removed.

Moerschel said she hopes that the four-way is indeed a temporary fix.

“We look forward to them revaluating it when the construction is finished and the students are able to cross the road through the underpass,” she said.

Though some in the community disagree with the decision to install the new signs, Mayor Jim Auxer said feedback is more positive than negative.

“I’ve received quite a few positive comments, ” he said.

Auxer said that he hasn’t seen any complaints about increased traffic, and he believes the stop sign is serving its intended purpose.

“It’s a lot safer for pedestrians,” he said.