Waterloo eyes traffic light changes at 6 intersections - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo eyes traffic light changes at 6 intersections


The city of Waterloo is looking to make several street intersections safer.  The city's received more than $71,000 in grant funding to make changes to traffic signals at the following six crossings:

  • 218 off Ramp at Hwy. 63
  • University & Ansborough Avenues
  • Commercial St. & Park Ave.
  • Bluff & W. 6th Streets
  • Hawthorne Ave & Hwy. 218
  • San Marnan & Shopper's Blvd.

So why are changes to traffic lights at these intersections needed?

The city says improvements are needed at the six crossings because of the large number of accidents they see.  All of the intersections currently have some traffic lights.  But by making some small changes in adding additional signals or changing how the lights run, the city feels it can dramatically reduce crashes.

A lot of traffic flows through downtown Waterloo during the lunch hour rush.  As drivers get in a hurry, crashes often happen at the intersection of Park Avenue and Commercial Street.  That's why it's one of a half-dozen crossings where the city is looking to make some changes.

"Waterloo PD gives us a list of the fatal and high injury accidents.  We look at each individual intersection, or location for the accidents, and try to see if there's an accident pattern," said Mohammad Elahi, Waterloo's city traffic engineer.

That's how the city's determined that a handful of small intersection fixes could be beneficial for drivers.  At Park and Commercial, the city's looking to change when the signals change, allowing only one approach to have a green light at a time.  Along University Avenue, approach Ansborough, warning signs will be added to help slow you down.  At other intersections, like US 63 at the 218 off ramp, lights may be added for better visibility.

"Some of those intersections we have lots of red light runnings.  And investigating the site, we saw all that's needed is installing one, three section signal head on the near side," Elahi said.

The city says there's proof that small intersection changes can have a big impact.  Take the crossing at Airport Boulevard and Broadway Street for example.  It used to be notorious for crashes.  A few years ago, the city made some small changes at the intersection.  And since then, there's been just one minor accident.

The city believes if the same result can be achieved by making traffic light changes at six more intersections, its efforts will be worthwhile. 

The Waterloo city council is expected to approve bids on making the light changes at its meeting Monday night, so that work can get underway.

The city will continue regular reviews of crash data to see if improvements, like traffic light changes, are helping to reduce accidents.  That way it can determine if additional changes might be needed.

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