Downtown traffic lights may be fixed this week

After months of issues, city officials say there may finally be a solution this week to problems with the traffic lights at the intersections of Fifth and Market streets and Fourth and Market streets.

The topic first was brought up during a Fulton City Council meeting this past spring, when several council members said they had received complaints about light changes — or, rather, lights not changing consistently — at those two intersections, particularly in the evenings and late at night. The lights would not turn to green on some of the lanes at the intersections, leading to problems with traffic and frustrated drivers.

At the time, City Engineer Greg Hayes pointed out that the lights were triggered by sensors laid under the intersections, which did not always detect vehicles if they were not stopped in a certain spot. He said he would look into it, with a proposed solution of changing those intersections to flashing red lights after 10 p.m.

Upon further investigation, however, Hayes determined switching to a blinking light was not a viable option.

“We would almost need a whole new controller system (to do that),” he said. “The controller between those blocks is just getting old, and it would be really complicated to change the program.”

That investigation did lead to the determination as to the cause of the problems.

“We did go out and test the loops, and we have one that’s not working,” Hayes said, noting the issue lies in one of the lanes at the intersection of Fifth and Market streets. “Those two signals run on the same loop. When one of those loops doesn’t work, the system doesn’t know to clear the loops out.”

Months later, he said the city finally is on the verge of solving the problem.

“We’ve been having problems with the traffic department, but right now we’re waiting on the weather,” Hayes said. “We’re going to have to saw cut (into the intersection) and replace the loop.”

Because of the oil-based mixture that is necessary when refilling the intersection, that replacement must wait for good weather.

“It’s possible we’ll do it Thursday or Friday — that’s when we’re supposed to get the next warm spell,” Hayes said.

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