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Through-lanes to be eliminated

By Matt Murphy, Local government writer

Drivers on Kanawha Boulevard East will need to be mindful of new traffic patterns in the next few weeks as continuous through-lanes are eliminated.

Pedestrians, meanwhile, will now be able to stop Boulevard traffic with the push of a button, making crossing the four-lane street safer.

The change is part of the ongoing traffic signal replacement project in the East End and downtown.

Once new signals are operational, eastbound Boulevard drivers in the East End and downtown will no longer have a continuous green arrow in the right lane and the posts dividing the right and left eastbound lanes will be removed.

At the same time, pedestrians will be able to push buttons on either side of the Boulevard that will change traffic lights to red for all directions, just like a traditional intersection and similar to the Boulevard’s intersection with Florida Street on the West Side.

Charleston Traffic Engineering Director Allen Copley said the new signals will be actuated and not timed, meaning a car or pedestrian will need to trigger a signal change.

“It won’t change at all if there’s no demand from traffic,” he said.

While new light poles and street signs are already visible, an exact date for when traffic patterns will change wasn’t available Friday.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carrie Bly said the contractor for the signal replacement project, Fraziers Bottom-based Bayliss and Ramey, is doing work as it receives parts for each intersection.

“As the equipment comes in, they’re putting it in,” she said.

Bly said a more concrete date for the Boulevard switch may be available this week.

Even though most intersections are on city-owned streets, the state Department of Transportation is administering the project.

Bayliss and Ramey has until the end of the year to complete the $4.6 million project stoplight replacement, which began last year. The project involves replacing traffic lights, street signs, and poles and installing new pedestrian crossings at nearly 60 intersections throughout the East End and downtown.

Department of Transportaion spokesman Brent Walker said last fall the project is the largest signal traffic project the department has ever conducted.

Over the last few months, some of the more visible components of the project have been installed, including new LED back-lit street signs in the Clearview font.

“Everything is looking great,” Copley said. “(The LED signs) are really helpful for finding your way around at night.”


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