Livingston stop signs provide traffic help

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


The recent downtown construction project in Livingston, in addition to upgrading water, sewer, streets and sidewalks, had an added benefit: It played a role in bringing some order to the intersection at B and Callender streets.

Up until recently, east-west passage on Callender had no stop signs, and B Street had one at each corner.

The problem was, every other motorist who drove east-west would stop or pause with an air of uncertainty on their faces, wondering if they really could go through that intersection — even though it was obvious, because they had no stop sign, that they could. Motorists waiting on B Street, meanwhile, would impatiently try to wave them through.

There was just something mysterious about that intersection that elicited this.

Then came the downtown construction that threatened to sow even more confusion upon the intersection. But the city put up stop signs on Callender to make it a four-way stop intersection.

Suddenly, the intersection became a calmer place, with no bewildered motorists on Callender stopping for no reason, looking left and right, waiting for inspiration about what to do.

Actually, according to Livingston Chief of Police Dale Johnson, the construction work simply provided an opportunity for the city to implement the recommendations of a traffic study, which included a four-way-stop at B and Callender, and at B and Lewis — which also recently got new signs, with similar traffic relief.

Makes you wonder what other intersections around town could use a four-way fix. One that comes to mind is the notorious intersection at Fifth and Callender streets, where longtime Livingston motorists — who famously have ingrained in their DNA that all east-west streets are a nonstop, straight-shot through — often tangle as they hit the Callender Street stop signs designed to keep them from wreaking destruction on Fifth Street drivers.

We don’t necessarily want more stop signs. Too many can create traffic stress of their own. What we really need is for Livingston motorists to follow some basic traffic laws, starting with dumping that hallowed eastwest tradition.

Next, would be following the law governing uncontrolled intersections.

It’s pretty simple: If two vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, the motorist on the left must yield. Johnson said that even if a motorist on the right arrives slightly later than the one on the left, if the cars are close enough to cause an accident, the motorist on the right still has the right of way.

Then we can throw in a reminder about speed limits, for local drivers who go way, way too fast on residential streets, blissfully unaware their carelessness could snuff out a child’s life in an instant.

Stop signs? If it will help prevent a tragedy like that, bring ’em.

— Dwight Harriman

Enterprise News Editor