Not a single car is in sight, but Chris Kleinsasser waits and waits at the red light. For a moment, the Augusta resident wonders if the signal at the intersection of Kissingbower Road and Gordon Highway is ever turning green.
As he idles in his car, Kleinsasser wonders what could be done, if anything, to maintain a more efficient system of traffic signals.
“I’m not a patient driver,” he said. “When I see no one else coming, I get worked up.”
More than 50 readers of The Augusta Chronicle identified lights across the area where they think the timing needs to be tweaked. Major thoroughfares such as Walton Way, Washington Road and Gordon Highway need improvements in addition to intersections in downtown Augusta and near Augusta Mall, they said.
Chris Hutchinson knows what to expect if he’s caught by a red light at Reynolds Street and the Fifth Street bridge.
“It’s red for 3, 4, 5 minutes tops,” he said. “Nobody’s coming. There’s no traffic.”
City traffic engineer Steve Cassell said timing lights perfectly isn’t as easy as some drivers think. In fact, it’s not even possible.
“There’s no such thing as perfectly timed,” he said.
Cassell said his department conducts maintenance at least once a year but he more commonly learns about mistimed lights when the public calls to complain.
Despite public grievances about long red lights at intersections of cross streets with larger thoroughfares, Cassell said many need to be that way for traffic flow. The main corridor needs more time with a green light.
“Sometimes, you’re just a lesser priority,” he said.
For Rebecca Holley-Forty, the Sunday morning drive to church is like a repeat of the previous week. She and her husband, Randy Forty, catch several red lights in a row on Telfair Street.
“It never ceases to amaze me how we catch that first red light,” she said. “Then, we just sit there and there’s not a car in sight.”
Holley-Forty questions why the signals can’t turn to flashing red lights early on Sunday mornings and other low-traffic periods. Kleinsasser, who is frustrated by red lights on empty streets late at night, said some lights should be flashing after midnight on weekdays and after 2 a.m. on weekends.
The city has tried flashing lights in some spots before and it creates more car crashes and interrupts the cycle of pedestrian crossings, Cassell said.
On downtown roads, Cassell said he’s considering shortening the cycle lengths so lights turn more rapidly.