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February 10, 2014

City: Lights not easily (or cheaply) replaced

Ada — An Ada city official responded Monday to a letter to the editor published in Sunday’s Ada News questioning why it takes so long to replace traffic signals in the city.

Public Works Director Carl Allen said the city has gotten several calls referring to the intersection at Arlington and Country Club, which was without a traffic signal for months after a semi knocked out the lights on Oct. 31. That problem was successfully addressed by the city on Jan. 27 but drivers had to rely on their common sense at the intersection before the new lights were installed.

 A reader wondered if perhaps the city lacked a sufficient number of votes on the council to approve such repairs or if other reasons, such as financial or a lack of manpower, prevented the repairs from being made quickly.

Regarding Country Club and Arlington, the city faced a series of obstacles over which it had no control, Allen said.

The malfunction at Country Club and Arlington occurred when a truck driving south on Country Club Road cut the corner in an attempt to turn west onto Arlington.

The truck jumped the curb and took the light out.

Allen said Monday the city immediately put up stop signs to create a four-way stop at the busy intersection, and that’s the way it remained through November and December and for 26 days of the new year.

But why did it take so long to right the matter after the lights were first taken out?

• The first thing city officials had to do was make contact with truck driver’s liability insurance company.

• The city then had to order replacement lights. Contrary to what some may believe, these lights aren’t waiting under a heat lamp at a fast-food restaurant. Allen said the lights have to be manufacturered for each order.

• There is a six-to-eight-week turnaround between the ordering of the lights and having them installed.

“When you think about it, there aren’t that many traffic poles being stuck up,” Allen said.

Once built, still more time is needed for careful shipping of the lights.

“We got them installed immediately after we got them. Within two to three days at the most,” Allen said.

They’re not cheap, either. A new light will run about $140,000, plus  $20,000 for the pole.

At least that expense was not borne by the city. The trucker’s insurance picked up that tab.

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