Sea Isle to try Flashing Yellow Traffic Lights

Posted on Monday, March 25th

The intersection of Landis Avenue and 86th Street in Sea Isle City was strangely quiet. For a few minutes, not one car or truck passed by on a Saturday afternoon.

Finally, a black truck drove by to break the silence.

After the truck disappeared, the intersection turned quiet again – for a few more minutes – until the next vehicle pulled up.

While this same intersection in Sea Isle’s Townsends Inlet area is usually busy with traffic during the bustling summer tourism months, things can slow to a trickle in the off-season.

Now, the city will experiment with yellow flashing lights at three intersections along the Landis Avenue corridor each year from Oct. 15 to May 1 to give people driving around town during the quiet months a break from unnecessary red lights.

“It’s a common sense approach,” Police Chief Tom McQuillen explained.

The intersections for blinking lights on Landis Avenue include 33rd Street near the north end of town, 53rd Street in the middle of the island and 86th Street in Townsends Inlet in the south.

Motorists traveling on Landis Avenue will have the blinking yellow lights. Drivers on 33rd Street, 53rd Street and 86th Street will have to stop at a flashing red light when they come to the intersection at Landis. Just like at a stop sign, they’ll be able to pass through the intersection when it is safe.

The Police Department recommended turning the lights into flashing mode after hearing complaints from local residents about having to stop for red lights on Landis Avenue when traffic is extremely light in winter, McQuillen said.

He noted this is the first time the city will experiment with blinking traffic signals during the off-season.

“The traffic volume slows to such a point that we think it’s safe to try it. So we’re going to give it a whirl,” he said.

Later on, police will analyze how the flashing lights worked and whether any changes are needed for next year. Feedback will be sought from the public, McQuillen said.

“Let’s give it a shot and see how it works,” he said.

City Council introduced an ordinance on March 12 authorizing flashing lights at the three intersections. A public hearing and final vote on the measure are scheduled at the April 9 Council meeting.

Besides saving motorists from the hassle of unnecessary red lights, the ordinance is also expected to have an environmental benefit. Councilman William Kehner said it should help to reduce auto emissions because drivers will not have to spend as much time idling at red lights.

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