Turning lane gets the green light … literally

Three signals installed, but DOH still unsure of completion date

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Turn Lane
The left turn signal at College Avenue is finally functional as the road construction project inches toward competition.

BUCKHANNON – All signals are pointing toward progress on the McDonald’s turning lane project.

Exactly how many signals, you might ask?

Well, the three sets of new LED traffic lights that have recently been installed at the intersection of Route 20 and College Avenue are red, yellow and green signs of momentum, one West Virginia Department of Highways official said Tuesday.

Although he declined to list a firm completion date for the project, DOH District 7 construction supervisor Keith Loar said the addition of three new stoplights/traffic signals indicate the contractor is making headway – even though it’s at a much slower pace than he’d like.

The DOH isn’t responsible for completing the $1.3 million project, which was originally slated to be finished by April 20, 2018.

It does, however, oversee the project, which the state bid out to A.L.L. Construction of Mt. Storm in 2017.

“They’re making progress, but it’s slow progress,” Loar said. “It’s not going as quickly as I had expected it to. Of course, the weather hasn’t helped.”

Loar told My Buckhannon Tuesday the new LED signals will be much brighter – and the addition of pedestrian signals are also on the horizon. The three new signals include one guiding traffic traveling north on Route 20, a second directing traffic heading south on 20 that may or may not intend to turn left onto College Avenue, and a third guiding traffic on College Avenue.

“They’re all LED,” he said. “They’re going to be a lot brighter.”

The three sets of signals are currently functional, but they’re operating on a timer, something that will change when the work is complete.

“They’re set on a timer now,” Loar said of the three sets of signals, “but when they’re finally set up and the work’s done, there will be radar detectors functioning as well.”

How does that translate into a more efficient traffic flow north and south on Route 20?

Loar said when the sensors detect the motion of a vehicle traveling up College Avenue toward Route 20, the signals governing the flow of traffic north and south will be cued to give the green light quicker to that vehicle.

Conversely, if no motion is detected on College Avenue, the lights controlling traffic north and south on Route 20 will stay greener longer, allowing more vehicles to move through the area.

“It will detect if there are cars on College Avenue waiting to turn left or right onto 20,” Loar said, “and it will also detect the cars in the center (left) turn lane and recognize them there waiting to turn onto College. Otherwise, they’re going to be keeping traffic going up and down Route 20.”

“Right now, the lights are just on timers,” he added, “but the radar will be set up closer to project completion.”

Loar says he’s hesitant to pinpoint a completion date because he’s missed the mark in the past.

“I wish I could tell you [when the work will be done],” he said. “I have in the past based on the best information I had, but obviously I have missed that by far.”

Several DOH officials estimated the project would be wrapped up by the end of September or beginning of October about a month ago, but that hasn’t panned out.

“We’re doing what we can to get the project completed as soon as possible, but it’s been persistently slow,” Loar said.

So what’s still on A.L.L. Construction’s to-do list?

Loar said the list includes concrete curb work, installing sidewalks on both sides of Route 20, paving the road and painting on pavement markings, such as road striping and turn arrows.

“We also still have to do the tie-ins for all the entryways for all the businesses and residential areas, and we have the programming of the lights and stop signs have to be put up,” he said.

Loar oversees DOH projects in Barbour, Upshur, Lewis, Braxton, Gilmer and Webster counties.

The turning lane project was designed to develop a three-lane segment of roadway stretching about 260 yards from the intersection of Route 20 and Marion Street to the intersection of East Victoria Street. Its purpose is to facilitate a smoother flow of traffic south on Route 20.

Officials with A.L.L. Construction did not return messages left by My Buckhannon Tuesday.