Homer’s second all-way traffic signal, and first-ever four-way stoplight, became operational last week. Contractors powered up the signal at the intersection of Main Street and the Homer Bypass on Dec. 10.
Gauging by a few drivers who pushed the yellow caution light, the new signal caught by surprise some people who had been used to zipping through the Main Street intersection on the Bypass.
The decision on the type of signal at Main Street and the Bypass came about in 2014. Traffic engineers had considered an option of a roundabout, but rejected it because of right-of-way concerns.
Homer also has flashing red traffic signals at Main Street and Pioneer Avenue, and at Lake Street and Pioneer Avenue. Those signals direct all traffic to stop, but do not have yellow or green signals.
Utility work on the four-way traffic signal started in June, with installation of poles and lights delayed until this month. Southcentral Construction of Anchorage was the lead contractor.
Earlier in the summer, subcontractor Northern Powerline installed fiber optic cables connecting the Main Street light with the Lake Street light, a “T” intersection signal that stops traffic on the Bypass to allow drivers to turn left from Lake Street. The fiber optic cables allow the signals to be coordinated so traffic flows smoothly between the two lights.
“It will be the latest, greatest new technology at the new intersection,” Pat Harvey, project manager for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said in June of the new signal system.
The new signal has left-turn lanes with green arrow signals in both directions on the Bypass.
The westbound direction also has a right-turn lane. Main Street does not have turn lanes or what traffic engineers call a turn pocket. A green light allows south- and northbound traffic on Main Street to cross the highway, but drivers making left turns will have to yield to oncoming traffic.
There are no left-turn green arrows on Main Street. Sidewalk curb cuts at the intersection were upgraded to the latest Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Harvey said the cost of the traffic signal is about $2.4 million, with about 95% of that paid for with federal transportation funds.