The traffic signal at the intersection at Girard and “B” Street is failing. This is the intersection where the County Health Department sits kitty-corner from the Municipal Court building, with a City-owned parking lot and the Bellingham Police Department on the opposite corners.
The traffic signal is overdue for a total infrastructure rebuild. It is the City's last out-of-date signal. It still has 8″ signal heads (current standard is 12″) with a cabinet that needs replacement and all signal poles failing. The cost to do all the work needed is approximately $250,000. Due to the prohibitive expense, as well as the success of earlier traffic signal removals (replaced by stop signs), the City plans to study this intersection over a 90-day period, with the intent to permanently remove the traffic light in favor of all-way stop signs.
Based on prior practice and the national standard Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices, the City will study the intended change over 90-days, while allowing motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to adjust to the all-way stop model.
Q & A:
Q: Why do you have to remove the traffic signal?
A: The signal is overdue for a total infrastructure rebuild. It is the City's last out-of-date signal. It still has 8″ signal heads (current standard is 12″) and all signal poles are failing, with a cabinet that needs replacement. The cost to do all the work needed is approximately $250,000.
Q: Won't losing the light make the intersection less safe?
A: Our goal is always to ensure safety. We are required by policy to study the change over 90 days, as we allow motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to get acquainted with an all-way stop model. We have seen at other intersections – which have already been converted from signal to all-way stops – no increase in accidents or significant traffic delays.
Q: Why not just spend the money to replace the traffic signal?
A: As the City is working to reduce deficit spending (over several years we've had to pull from reserves in order to balance the budget) is it imprudent to spend a quarter million dollars to replace a traffic signal when an all-way stop could be just as safe and effective as a signal. Since this is a change that has already been successful at several other intersections in Bellingham (specifically at Grand and Flora, Commercial and Flora, Unity and Flora, and Commercial and Champion) this is clearly a better choice.