Sprigg-Normal signals will be improvement

Monday, July 29, 2002

For years, traffic at the intersection of Sprigg Street and Normal Avenue has been dicey at certain times of the day, particularly when Southeast Missouri State University classes have been in session.

Both streets are heavily used by students going to and coming from classes, and Sprigg has long been a major north-south street for the whole town -- one of the few streets other than Kingshighway that goes from Lexington Avenue on the north all the way to Southern Expressway on the south.

Residents near the Sprigg-Normal intersection have wanted traffic signals for a long time. Both the city and university also wanted some way to control traffic at the intersections, which currently has stop signs for vehicles on Normal but not on Sprigg.

One reason stop signs weren't put on Sprigg was because of the small hills north and south of the intersection. There's just enough incline to limit the visibility of motorists.

Now the city and university are cooperating on a project that should have traffic signals installed by November.

Some motorists wonder if there will be a visibility problem when traffic backs up on Sprigg while the light is red.

The speed limit for both streets is 30 mph. Motorists who stay within the limit probably won't have to worry about traffic in front of them -- just speeders who might be coming behind them. One suggestion would be to put a warning sign with a blinking light on top of the Sprigg Street hills to warn motorists of the new signal.

At one time, the Sprigg-Normal intersection was a prime candidate for a roundabout, even before the city's only roundabout was constructed at Gordonville and Silver Springs roads.

That project, of course, turned into a public-relations nightmare for the city when the turning radius proved to be too tight, and alterations had to be made to accommodate larger vehicles. Even so, that roundabout shows considerable wear and tear from vehicles that have run up on the curbs on all sides.

When city officials last brought up the idea of a roundabout at Sprigg and Normal, they insisted the traffic circle could be constructed on available right of way. But that clearly would have meant another too-small roundabout, one that would have created more problems that it solved, considering the traffic flow in that area.

A traffic signal will be a big improvement, particularly since the university's transportation hub for its shuttle buses is on the east side of Sprigg near that intersection. Left-turn lanes have been added on Normal, giving traffic in all directions a chance to get out of the main flow of traffic when turning left.

Once the $147,000 project is finished, motorists should find it much easier getting to and from the university.

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