Stop signs, no signal at Cliff Avenue and 17th could be permanent Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A hit-and-run incident has turned into an opportunity to evaluate the need for the traffic signal at the intersection of Cliff Avenue and 17th Street in Sioux Falls, said Heath Hoftiezer of the city’s traffic department.

“A couple of weeks ago a vehicle took out the signal control in a hit and run,” Hoftiezer said.

Temporary stop signs have been placed at 17th Street on each side of Cliff Avenue at the intersection. But there is a good chance those stop signs will stay.

The signal is pole mount cabinet and “would take a significant amount of money to get it back and running,” Hoftiezer said. The estimated cost to repair the signal is at least $20,000 to $30,000, he said.

The damage allowed the city to examine the traffic count on that portion of Cliff Avenue to help determine if the traffic signal was still needed, Hoftiezer said.

“This is an opportunity to step back and take a look at this,” Hoftiezer said.

“Going back to the last solid study I had was in 1981,” Hoftiezer said. The traffic volume then showed a signal at Cliff Avenue and 17th Street was not warranted, he said.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, there was one lane of traffic in each direction in that area of Cliff Avenue, Hoftiezer said.

A traffic count from 1985 shows 12,725 vehicles south of 17th Street in the 17th Street to 20th Street section. In 1980, the count was 11,095 in the same area. The count for north of 17th Street was 12,970 in 1971.

The May 20 and 21, 1981, traffic study tracked Cliff Avenue traffic at specific times and the east and west bound traffic on 17th Street. As well as traffic entering Cliff and 17th Street.

From 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. during one day, the Cliff Avenue southbound traffic entering the intersection with 17th Street had 755 vehicles. Fifty-four turned right onto 17th Street and 112 turned left onto 17th.

Although traffic has increased since that 1981 study, it has not increased enough to meet standards for a traffic signal at the intersection, Hoftiezer said.

The traffic signals have been covered at Cliff Avenue and 17th Street. The signals were damaged in a hit-and-run incident. The city is studying the need for traffic light at the intersection.

Traffic department employees have been watching the intersection throughout the past two weeks to gauge how well the stop signs and no signal are working, he said. So far, it is going well, Hoftiezer said.

Hoftiezer said most of the public feedback on the intersection’s temporary change has been favorable.

“Three different people would rather see it stay in place,” Hoftiezer said.

If the city removes the traffic signal it would likely start by removing the lights but keeping the posts.

“We don’t just want to rip it down and say, ‘It’s gone,'” Hoftiezer said.

The city is also examining the intersection at 12th Street and Main Street near the Washington Pavillion.

The city is considering using rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) crosswalks at the intersection, Hoftiezer said.

“People tend not to pay attention and just cross,” Hoftiezer said of the existing traffic light and crosswalk.

An RRFB would allow a pedestrian to push the crossing light and almost immediately cross, Hoftiezer said.

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