homepage logo

And the light changes for whom?

By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

With all of the major issues happening around the state and the nation that can cause one stress, this week, for me, it’s the little thing that drives me crazy. And that little thing is the stop lights in and around the Eastern Panhandle.

One would think that in a short drive from Harpers Ferry to Shepherdstown and back again, it would be a relaxing, easy drive. But just between my home and my office, there are four lights. And none of the four are synced to a timing mechanism that allows them to offer a smooth traffic flow. In fact, one, at the City of Customs and Border Patrol, seems to have extended green for government drivers whether they are present or not.

At any time of day or night, turn lane signals come on at these four lights when there are no cars anywhere around. Rather than having a sensor to determine traffic flow, it sometimes feels as if the sensors are reversed so that the red light pops up for the oncoming traffic and the green for empty roads.

I must say that at the Bolivar light, at least in the evening and overnight hours, the light sensors go with the traffic. Then come up to Customs and stop! No traffic coming or going to the facility, but the extended green and turn lanes are activated.

Go to Charles Town and plan to stop and go through all of the lights from Walmart to the casino. They are not synced for traffic flow at all. Add to the delay that drivers somehow don’t seem to think they are able to drive in the left lane and traffic backs up in the right especially during rush hour.

Heading to Martinsburg is not better. In fact, Berkeley County’s lights on Route 9 cause major headaches. And now there are even more lights being added to the stop and go scenario. A new light at the Eastern Regional Jail, a new light at the next intersection as well. Get through those and try to make it through by the McDonald’s and the fiasco under Interstate 81. It makes one want to stay home-or at least not try to shop at the Target and other stores up on the hill!

Makes one wonder exactly who at the Department of Highways thinks up these patterns and programs these lights. A little adjustment would make our “commute” so much easier.

Having been a former commuter to Northern Virginia, I watched to stop lights add up along Route 7 toward Tyson’s Corner until there was one at every intersection. Now, years and millions of dollars later, those lights are changed to ramps and overpasses. Live and learn, I guess.

And while I get a little frustrated with our systems here, never again would I wish for the commute-not because of the lights, but because of the sheer volume of traffic.