Vote switch revives stop sign
by Rick DeClue · News · November 30, 2012

The West Branch City Council stepped closer to approving permanent stop signs at the intersection of Oliphant Street and Main Street, due to council member Mark Worrell changing his vote.

West Branch Community Schools Operations Director Joe Lande, who oversees busing and making sure the flip-up stop signs are in place each day, called permanent stop signs a “great idea.”

“It would be a lot safer,” he said.

The signs were voted down by the council previously when a 2-2 tie was insufficient for further consideration. In that vote, Worrell and council member Jim Oaks voted no, with council member Dan O’Neil absent.

O’Neil later asked the council to reconsider the issue due to his absence. The first reading of the reconsideration on Nov. 5 passed 3-2 with O’Neil’s vote for the issue.

The second reading on Nov. 19 was in question because O’Neil again was absent.

Worrell started the discussion by stating that he was hearing from more people who wanted the signs, than were against them.

Worrell said he was torn by the issue. He understands the arguments against the signs, such as the effect on traffic with three stop signs in four blocks along Main Street. On the other hand, he admitted that he has run through the flip sign.

Council member Colton Miller said he thought the major problem was the inconsistency caused by the current flip-up sign, which goes up before and after school.

“People just run right through it,” he added.

Worrell asked whether the police department had positioned the city’s speed trailer near the intersection, which he had requested. He said that his experience was that you do not control speed with stop signs.

Council member Jordan Ellyson said that the issue was about child safety, not speed. She also pointed out that school hours tend to be extended by after school activities, practices and so on.

Council member Oaks said that the current system had worked for more than 30 years, but Worrell responded that “it only takes one” incident.

Ellyson said that there are no signs indicating that the intersection is a designated school crossing. Oaks and Worrell said that this was considered in the past. They said Iowa Department of Transportation requirements include advanced warning signs for designated crossings be placed a certain distance from the crossing in both directions. At the time, it was decided that this was simply too many signs along this stretch of Main Street.

The second reading passed 3-1 with Worrell’s “yes.” The third and final reading must still pass for the ordinance to take effect.

Worrell asked about looking at the designated crossing issue again. He said if the council is going to make the change in the stop signs, it should not do things half-way.

Lande said that the way the ordinance reads, the school is allowed to keep the signs up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though that is not the practice because in the past the school has gotten complaints.

The operations director said many people tap their brakes at the intersection even when the signs are down.

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