New stop lights installed to improve safety

By Matt Michalek

Drivers returning to DeKalb from semester break found traffic moving more smoothly than it did when they went home thanks to two new stop lights.

The new lights were installed at the corners of Annie Glidden Road and Hillcrest Drive, and First Street and Locust Street on Jan. 7. Both lights had been planned for several years as part of DeKalb’s signal improvement program.

Ralph Tompkins, DeKalb assistant director of public works, said the main reasons the new lights were installed were to improve traffic safety and to make traffic flow more efficiently.

He said the intersection at Annie Glidden Road has been designated as a high accident area and the Federal Government allocated $80,000 as part of a federal safety project.

The lights at Annie Glidden Road cost $120,000 to install and $85,000 at First Street, he said.

According to DeKalb Police Lt. Robert McMorrow, in 1990 the intersection at Annie Glidden Road and Hillcrest Drive had 19 accidents. He said this was the highest occurrence among all intersections in DeKalb.

McMorrow said the DeKalb Police Department has high hopes the new stop lights will decrease accidents at the intersection.

The 7-11 store on the corner of Annie Glidden and Hillcrest has a perfect view of the intersection and the store manager said before the lights were installed she witnessed many accidents.

“There were lots of accidents, almost two or three per weekend,” she said. “The accidents were usually not serious, just fender-benders.”

She said the lights had not been up long enough to notice any change yet, but over the entire move-in weekend, there were no accidents.

Tompkins said the new stop lights at the intersection of First Street and Locust Street replaced stop signs that were originally there. He said this was done to improve the efficiency of traffic on First Street, and the intersection itself, since all traffic does not have to stop at the intersection anymore.

Tompkins said the addition of stop lights to the intersection of Annie Glidden Road and Hillcrest Drive will also increase the efficiency of the intersection, especially during rush hour, and for people turning left from Hillcrest Drive to Annie Glidden Road.