Thursday, August 16, 2012

Councilman sees the light — is OK with 4-way stop

After three years and a busy weekend downtown, Saugatuck City Councilman Henry VanSingel is giving the accidental four-way traffic light at Butler and Water streets the green light.

“It works,” said the former stop light skeptic during Monday’s city council meeting.

The city’s only traffic light malfunctioned in August 2009, going from the green-yellow-red cycle to just blinking red in all four directions. Old age was to blame.

Three years ago, City Manager Kirk Harrier advocated for keeping it a four-way stop, saying pedestrians didn’t know when to cross with the solid colors and were still in the intersection when the light turned green. Traffic backed up quickly, he said.

“Traffic flows smoothly when it blinks,” he said three years ago.

VanSingel — a doubter all those years — now agrees.

He watched the traffic and pedestrians at the intersection during last weekend’s tourist crush and is now convinced the blinking-red light is the best way to go.

The lakeshore town had made a tradition of switching the light from blinking red (for the winter) to full-cycle each spring (for the summer crowds), holding its Changing of the Light ceremony.

The town crier would open the ceremony with a boisterous declaration and the top-hat crowned mayor then switched the light to its full tourist season colors.

The first person to drive through the reactivated light got a certificate noting his or her accomplishment.

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