The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 19, 2013

Traffic tie-ups | City should address red-light wait times

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — It’s something that none of us in this mile-a-minute world think we have time for: Sitting at red lights.

But short of breaking the law – which we do not recommend – it’s hard to escape. That doesn’t mean we won’t complain about it.

Miffed motorists took to our Facebook page last week to let us know how unhappy they are with some wait times at local stoplights. The most frustrating part, they said, is sitting at a red light when there are no vehicles on the cross street.

Reporter Justin Dennis looked into the problem, contacting Darby Sprincz, Johnstown’s director of Public Works.

“It’s not really the system, it’s the drivers,” Sprincz said, noting that motorists often pull past the “stop here on red” signs. “If you don’t stop (there), you’re not going to trigger the sensor.”

Another issue that can cause delays, according to Sprincz, is when a motorist doesn’t immediately respond to a green light, which can fool the light system into thinking that a vehicle isn’t there.

Finally, Sprincz said his crews do everything they can to fix malfunctioning crosswalk signals, which can impact traffic flow.

“The biggest problem we have are the ped lights,” he said. “If we receive a lot of calls about an intersection, sometimes the button is stuck. That’s an issue that makes the signal not work properly.”

We understand that maintaining every light in the city must be a difficult job, but it seems to us that there really are some trouble spots that don’t seem to fit any of the mentioned scenarios.

Signals in the West End seem to be particularly problematic, and we know of at least one driver who changed his daily commute to avoid the Franklin Street intersection with Hickory.

 John McClafferty has a problem at a different spot, according to his Facebook comment.

“Brownstown is like ‘Hotel California,’ ” he said. “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave – if you’re making a left onto Broad Street.”

Until the issues get worked out, we have some other Eagles-inspired advice for motorists: “Take It Easy” because with some of the lights in our area it will be tough to live “Life in the Fast Lane.”

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