By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Those traveling along Byron Center Avenue might have noticed a new addition – a traffic signal at 68th Street and Byron Center Avenue.
The new signal was recently installed by the Kent County Road Commission, which has jurisdiction of maintenance over the intersection, in the last couple of weeks. According to Road Commission officials, there is no firm date when the traffic signal will go in “stop and go” operation, but it should occur later this month.
As for why the traffic light was installed on the three-way intersection, KCRC Assistant Director of Traffic and Safety Shirley Wollner said when the intersection was built, it was anticipated that it would meet the signal warrants and was built with adequate lanes for a single installation. Byron Center Avenue was built in 2004 and 68th Street was constructed in 2005.
“The Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) conducts Safety Audits for upcoming construction projects, and a 2017 resurfacing project is planned on Byron Center between 68th Street and 84th Street,” Wollner said. “As part of the Safety Audit, KCRC conducted a signal warrant study for the Byron Center Avenue and 68th Street intersection.”
The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, published by the Federal Highway Administration, sets forth the the warrants which are designed to reduce the arbitrary use of four-way stops, traffic signals and the traffic control devices, according to Wollner. Among the measures are traffic volume and traffic crash data.
The signal arrant study for Byron Center Avenue and 68th Street showed the volume did meet the requirements or the traffic signal. The traffic study showed that in an eight-hour period 1,105 vehicles traveled Byron Center Avenue with 106 on westbound 68th Street. This demonstrates that the volume on the major street, Byron Center Avenue, is so heavy that it is those on the minor street, 68th Street, to suffer excessive delay or conflict when entering or cross the major street, according to the report from the Kent County Road Commission on the 68th Street/Byron Center Avenue traffic light.
Wollner said there was a crash pattern of left turn crashes as well but those did not meet the criteria for the signal. Over a five year period from 2010 – 2015, there had been eight left turn crashes out of 13 total.