MIAMI, Okla. —
Citing the high cost of replacement and a lack of funding from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Miami City Council voted unanimously this week to move forward with the removal of three aging traffic signals.
The city will remove the traffic signal at Fifth Avenue and Main Street; it was damaged last year by a tractor-trailer. Within the next two months, it will be replaced with a solar-powered flashing stop sign.
Traffic signals at Steve Owens Boulevard and A Street Southeast, and at Steve Owens Boulevard and A Street Southwest will be phased out. In the next month, the lights at the two intersections will be switched to flashing yield and stop lights before eventually being covered.
Tyler Cline, assistant public works director, said the phases are aimed at increasing safety at the intersections as motorists and pedestrians get used to the changes. Cline said that after evaluating the change, he will propose a resolution to physically remove the lights.
“We want to see if changing the lights will cause any problems,” Cline said. “That is why we are implementing the phases. We want to make sure that we are doing the right thing before we get to a point that we can’t undo it.”
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has determined that the intersections do not meet the state criteria to warrant funding for replacing the lights.
Mayor Rudy Schultz said the city asked ODOT to come in because the lights were malfunctioning last fall during heavy rains. “We were having a very difficult time finding parts to repair the lights,” he said. “Obviously if we could get the state to assist with funding, that would have been our first option.”
Last year, the city spent $40,000 on repairs to traffic lights throughout town. Previous estimates from the Public Works Department for replacing all of the traffic lights were between $150,000 and $200,000.
The council conducted a public hearing before the vote on the proposed removal of the lights.
“It was posted on social media and it ran in the newspapers, so it was a bit of a surprise to see so few people there,” Cline said. “It will be interesting to see the response once we move forward.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council voted 2-3 against a motion to authorize $9,000 in repairs to the yellow slide at the city’s pool. Kristi McClain and Mayor Rudy Schultz voted in favor of the repairs. The slide was the subject of two injury claims in 2012 that cost the city $12,000. The slide was closed during the 2013 season for structural repairs.