Traffic signal moving forward

Instead of idling at stop signs, being unsure of which vehicle should pull out first or being blocked by a semi when trying to turn, drivers at a busy Greenwood intersection will soon get a red, yellow or green light.

A new stoplight will be installed at Graham Road and Main Street by fall 2016, changing the intersection from a busy, and sometimes confusing, four-way stop.

Greenwood officials have wanted a traffic signal there since 2010, city engineer Mark Richards said.

Five years ago, it was clear that a signal was needed just by the number of vehicles traveling through the intersection each day, Richards said. A traffic study in 2011 showed 6,162 vehicles, including more than 400 semis, passed through that intersection daily during rush hour. By comparison, some intersections that already have traffic lights can have 8,000 cars passing through, like at Madison Avenue and Main Street, according to the study.

Since then, homes have been added east of the intersection, including in Trotters Pointe Apartments and Homecoming at University Park. New industrial buildings also have been built near the intersection in the past five years, such as the ULTA distribution center north of the intersection and continued development in Precedent South Business Center south of the intersection.

In addition to the increased traffic, the size of the intersection and multiple turn lanes from each direction make it difficult to navigate, Richards said.

“When we widened Graham Road in 2010, it basically widened the intersection,” Richards said. “There are delays basically because of traffic being unable to make a decision. Drivers are a little bit hesitant to try to go through the intersection because it is so big.”

And with left-turn-only lanes coming from each direction at the intersection, and right-turn-only lanes in two directions, vehicles can struggle to see oncoming traffic. Installing the traffic light will fix that issue, Richards said.

Once the state accepted new proposals for traffic lights, city officials submitted the $364,000 project so federal dollars could cover 80 percent of the cost. The city will need to cover 20 percent of the traffic light’s cost, as well as $42,000 for the design, Richards said.

The project also got funding for a traffic signal because of air pollution from when cars are idling at the current stop signs through the Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, Richards said.

To install the traffic light the city will not need to acquire any more land, which if needed, could have delayed the project by another year, Richards said.

“The intersection was designed with the understanding that traffic signals would be eventually installed,” Richards said.

Utility companies will need to relocate their cables and power sources over the next year, and an environmental study will need to be done before the project is assigned to a contractor, Richards said.