PDT Staff Writer
The city is not following the proper procedure in removing the traffic light at Gilbert Avenue and Coles Boulevard, according to Portsmouth City Councilman Bob Mollette.
“It needs to be flashing and there should be a sign saying it will be removed in 90 days,” Mollette said. “That would give the citizens an opportunity to address the mayor about it.”
Instead, the light is covered in plastic.
Mayor Jim Kalb had little to say about Mollette's claim.
“I disagree,” he said. “We are following procedure.”
The city turned the light off shortly after Roosevelt Elementary School was demolished last year. But Mollette said the light offered pedestrians a safe place to cross the street and motorists a safe way of entering Coles Boulevard from nearby side streets.
According to Mollette, Kalb said a traffic light is not warranted at the intersection. But Kalb ordered the police to monitor speed on Coles Boulevard.
He also said the city should maintain traffic data, such as the number of crashes at the intersection during the 90-day period. That way the city could better decide whether the light should stay or not, Mollette said.
“If the decision is to continue with the removal of the traffic signal, the signal heads shall be bagged or removed and the traffic signal turned off for a 60-day period,” he wrote in a letter to Kalb. “Again, accidents shall be monitored, with the possibility of conversion of the traffic signal to a flashing intersection control beacon.”
Mollette asked Kalb for all information used to justify the light removal and that the traffic committee be involved in the process.
Mollette said Kalb is not going through the traffic committee and is short-changing the public by not doing so.
“They should say that we're removing the light and this is the reason why,” he said.
Mollette said informing the public as to why the light is being removed is “a vital step in making a wise decision.”
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.