At the Tuesday night voting session, with one seat vacant and
Alderwoman Stacy Bacon absent for the evening, the motion to approve
a traffic signal was approved by a 5-3 vote.
Prior to the motion,
three Lincoln residents who live in the vicinity of the proposed
light spoke to the council, asking once again that the motion for
the light be denied.
Michelle Vermeire, who first spoke out against the light at the
council's Feb. 1 meeting, came back this week with new reasons why
the light was not going to benefit the community.
Vermeire lives in the 500 block of North College, which is
actually closer to the Woodlawn intersection than the Fifth Street
She said that even though she is not right on the corner, she has
seen the effects of that traffic light in and around her home.
Vermeire commented on the effect the changing of the light from
green to red and back to green will have as it shines through
homeowners' windows at night.
In addition she noted that at the intersection the noise levels
would increase as vehicles with loud mufflers, revving engines,
squeaking brakes and loud sound systems would come to a halt and sit
in front of the homes for the period of time the lights are red.
She also noted that homeowners in that area will come to have
issues with privacy as their outdoor space is invaded by stopped
traffic, as well as being exposed to more carbon monoxide due to
emissions as the cars sit waiting their turn to move on.
Finally Vermeire posed a question to the council: "Where will
they go next?" She said that many people travel Fifth Street because
there is no stop. What street will they move to, and can that street
handle the traffic?
Chuck Conzo was the next person to speak. Conzo lives at the
intersection in question and is very much opposed to the traffic
signal going in there.
He said that he agreed completely with everything Vermeire had to
say and added that there would be additional unintended consequences
of putting the light there.
He noted that as he had campaigned this winter for the position
of county treasurer, he had visited a lot of homes and that
especially in the Third Street area, traffic flow had been
He reported that residents in that area are seeing increases in
traffic even now, and that with a light on Fifth, it could be that
Third would be the street that would be the answer to "Where do they
He wondered, "What can you do then? You don't want to put a
traffic light on Third Street."
In addition Conzo brought to mind the noise level of semi braking
systems. He said that semis use what is called a Jake brake, which
is very loud, and some cities have had to address that issue as
Greg Coughlin also returned to follow up on comments he had made
at the meeting two weeks prior.
He said he really wanted to know why the light was going in at
this intersection. He wondered whether this was one person's idea,
or if a group had come to City Hall and asked for this. He answered
his own question by saying, "I really don't think so."
When the guests had finished speaking, Snyder led the council
into the passing of the resolutions.
City attorney Bill Bates had written four resolutions, which were
passed one at a time.
The first three passed unanimously with votes of 8-0. Those
resolutions approved the resurfacing of Fifth Street from Evans to
Keokuk at no cost to the city, the resurfacing of parking lanes
along that route with the city bearing a portion of the cost, and
upgrades to the traffic signal at Woodlawn and College with the city
bearing a portion of the cost.
The fourth and final resolution pertained to the signal at Fifth
and College. Alderwoman Marty Neitzel made the motion to approve,
and it was seconded by Alderman Jeff Hoinacki.
During discussion Neitzel said: "The people who have come to me
have said, ‘Please, Marty, vote for the light.' I am an elected
official; I am out there to do what they ask me to do. I will vote
Alderwoman Melody Anderson said that she is still holding to the
belief that approving this light will actually cause problems rather
than solve them.
[to top of second column]
Alderwoman Joni Tibbs asked for an explanation of the timing of the
light, and city engineer Mark Mathon responded.
In the mornings, if there is a constant stream of traffic on
College, the light will switch on a 60-second cycle. The Fifth
Street traffic will be allowed 30 seconds of green; then the green
will go to the College Street artery for 22 seconds.
In the afternoon and evening hours the timing ratio will change
slightly, allowing Fifth Street travelers 33 seconds of green light
at a time.
The timing cycles apply only when there is traffic on College.
When no traffic is present, the light will stay green on Fifth.
Alderwoman Kathy Horn asked about the maintenance and electric
costs for the light, and Mathon said that under the Illinois
Department of Transportation's standard agreement, the city will
bear 50 percent of those costs.
Tracy Jackson, city street and alley superintendent, added a
comment that right now 400 vehicles a day are moving to Fourth and
Sixth Street, to avoid Fifth Street traffic, even without the light.
Alderman David Wilmert said that in all honesty the calls he had
received in the end came out that there was a slight majority in
favor of the light. He said that even so, he was going to oppose it.
He defended his position by saying: "It is a mistake to do so
fiscally, it is short-sighted, and you've heard some of the
reasoning here tonight. I'm going to risk the 55-45 split on this
issue because it is the right thing to do."
Additional discussion on the subject included whether or not the
signal would be better if there could be a turn lane involved, but
Mathon said that on the east and west route there was no place for a
turn lane, and it would possibly not be that effective to add a turn
lane on College such as what is in place on Woodlawn at Union.
Wilmert asked again if the council could slow down on this
decision. "Just because someone is throwing money at it doesn't make
it the right thing to do," he said. "Ultimately we should think this
through and apply some logic to it. We're going to own this for a
long time. I mean we can't take it out with less than an act of God,
and we're going to have to maintain it."
Tibbs, who has been out of town on a planned leave through most
of the discussions on the traffic signal, said that even so, she had
her laptop with her, plus her cell phone, and she did hear from her
constituents on the matter. She would vote in favor of the light
because that is what her constituents want.
Snyder led the discussion to a close, inviting one more trip
around the room for comments. When no one responded, the motion went
The roll call vote went as follows: Hoinacki -- yes; Neitzel --
yes; Armbrust -- yes; Wilmert -- no; Anderson -- no, Horn -- no;
Tibbs -- yes; and Busby -- yes.
With a 5-3 vote in favor of, Snyder will sign the letter of
intent to IDOT, and this summer a traffic control device will become
a part of the Fifth Street landscape.
[By NILA SMITH]
articles related to the Fifth Street traffic signal