WALLA WALLA -- Talk about a bright idea.
Ringed with bright red LEDs, two new stop signs at the intersection of Gose Street and Wallula Avenue now announce themselves to drivers who are blocks away. The technological twist is intended to make sure motorists do what they should do, i.e. see the sign and halt.
"Glad to hear the new stop signs grabbed your attention. That means they're doing what they are designed to do," Randy Glaeser, Walla Walla County public works director, said an email when asked about the flashy newcomers.
Glaeser said the new signs were installed Friday. The signs were the final project in a plan to improve traffic safety at eight locations across the county.
"Last year we received about $700,000 from the Federal Highway Administration specifically designated to enhance safety at noted trouble spots throughout the rural area and at intersections," Glaeser said. "The intent was to spend smaller amounts of money to improve (or) enhance safety at numerous locations as opposed to spending all the money at one location."
This is the first time the county has used this type of sign, which is quite expensive compared to traditional signs, Glaeser said. A single flashing LED stop sign costs about $2,000 while an ordinary sign costs just $30.
Two projects on Byrnes Road and West Whitman Drive added delineators to better outline curves in the road where several crashes had occurred. Two more projects on sections of Reser Road and Russell Creek Road will include road realignments to eliminate some substandard curves or other roadway safety hazards.
Three other projects will include reconstruction of intersections to improve safety at Reser Road-Prospect Avenue, at School Avenue and Reser Road and at JB George Road and Peppers Bridge Road.
At the Gose Street-Wallula Avenue intersection, many of the crashes "appear to result from inattentive drivers who either fail to stop or fail to realize the vehicle in front of them stopped" Glaeser said. The new flashing signs provide drivers an extra warning as they approach the intersection.
"Although the cost prohibits widespread use of the flashing signs county-wide, we will evaluate the effectiveness of the new signs at the Gose-Wallula intersection and if they prove to enhanced safety by reducing accidents, we will certainly consider additional signs of this type at similar intersections," he said.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.