TEXAS CITY — The city is removing traffic lights this month at three locations — one near the high school and new middle school and two nearby signals on Texas Avenue — after a study by the Texas Department of Transportation deemed they weren’t needed.
With lighter traffic in the areas, the lights make less sense and can lead to drivers waiting for a green light when there are no vehicles on the cross street, said City Engineer Doug Kneupper.
The traffic light on Ninth Avenue (Palmer Highway) between 15th and 21st streets at the exit of the Moore Memorial Public Library, near both the middle school and the high School, will come down Sept. 15, Kneupper said.
Kneupper said two traffic lights on Texas Avenue (FM 1765), at Ninth Street and at Seventh Street, would come down Sept. 29. The lights were installed decades ago when there was far more traffic along the street, he said.
The request to remove the lights came from the city in 2012, said Danny Perez, a spokesperson with the state’s transportation department.
The department found that only about three pedestrians used the crosswalk on Ninth Avenue during an eight-hour period. That traffic signal is now flashing yellow, and a sign states it is being studied for removal.
The state will install additional signs and refresh the crosswalk pavement markings once the light is removed, Perez said.
“The signs will alert motorists that there is a potential for pedestrian activity in the area,” he said.
School district OK with removal
Removal of the light on Ninth Avenue shouldn’t be a problem for students or motorists, city and school officials said.
The traffic light originally went up to allow students at the old high school on the north side of Ninth Avenue to cross to the football stadium and sports fields on the south side of the six-lane street. But when the high school was built on the south side of the road next to the football stadium, the traffic light came under scrutiny.
Setting the light to blinking yellow, signaling caution, has worked for the school district, spokesperson Melissa Tortorici said.
When school starts, the district will have a crossing guard on either side of Ninth Avenue to escort students across the street, she said.
Removal of the traffic signal may be beneficial to drivers, she said.
The school district received complaints about the wait time for a left turn signal for drivers trying to get into Simpson Education Support Center, 1700 Ninth Ave. N., and the district welcomed the transportation department study, she said.
“We will know more as school begins, and the traffic conditions with parent pickup and drop-off can be measured,” Tortorici said.
Pedestrian is concerned
But while city and school district officials are on board, not everyone is happy with the removal of the traffic lights.
Kenneth Nelson said that while he doesn’t have children that go to the middle or high school, he does use the city park that’s by the public library and City Hall on Ninth Avenue.
Nelson said the traffic light makes sense.
Nelson said he thought the traffic light helped keep pedestrians safe and helped drivers leaving the various parking lots on Ninth Avenue.
“It the perfect place for a stop light,” Nelson said, “It slows everybody down.”
At a glance
Traffic lights at three locations in Texas City will be removed in September.
• The traffic light on Ninth Avenue (Palmer Highway) between 15th and 21st streets at the exit of the Moore Memorial Public Library, near both the middle school and the high School, will come down Sept. 15.
• Two traffic lights on Texas Avenue (FM 1765), at Ninth Street and at Seventh Street, would come down Sept. 29.