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ACC Mayor and Commission discuss traffic light upgrades

Nicole Jordan

Athens-Clarke County commissioners met last night for a work session where the county’s traffic lights made up part of the discussion.

County staffers are seeking some $2.9 million dollars to upgrade traffic signals, and they came to commissioners with a new way of scoring traffic lights to find the ones most in need of improvements.

"The national lifespan recommended lifespan is 13 years for these traffic signals and we do have quite a few 40 that are 40 years old or older," said Tim Griffeth, the county's Traffic Engineer. "This failing infrastructure is a safety concern to the public and as well as to traffic engineering staff."

Replacing those aging signals, Griffeth says, would provide benefits for more than just drivers.

"We can increase the efficiency for pedestrians, for bicyclists and others with newer signals," he said. "We can't do that on a lot of our signals now, but one of the other things I'd like to mention in conjunction with new traffic signals is the the emissions factor. If we keep cars from just sitting and idling here in Athens, hopefully we won't have the the emissions problems that some other areas have."

Replacing those signals will be costly, however. County officials estimate that replacing just four traffic lights that are at the top of their list will cost some $2.9 million.

Commissioners are expected to take up the issue at their voting meeting next month.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.