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City’s traffic signalization improvements moving along

During the coming days and weeks ahead, people driving through downtown Ironton will see some new intersection improvements begin to take shape.

New traffic signals at six intersections are hanging in place, although still covered, as a part of $1.5 million signalization improvement project funded by a grant from the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the project, which has been in the works for several years, is a much need one to help beautify the city and increase safety.

“We have some signals that are held up with wire and duct tape,” Blankenship said. “It looks terrible and is unsafe, obviously.”

Construction for the project, which includes new traffic signals at the intersections of Park Avenue at Sixth, Fifth, Fourth, and Third streets and Adams Street at Second and Third streets, was 100 percent funded by the KYOVA grant,” Blankenship said.

The city paid about $20,000 to match funds for the design costs.

Lawrence County Engineer Doug Cade is overseeing the project at no cost to the city.

“This is the first time the county engineer and city have partnered on a project other than basic resurfacing,” Cade said.

In addition to new traffic lights, the improvement project includes resurfacing the intersections, painting crosswalks, pedestrian crosswalk signs and increasing the turn radii of the curbs and making the curbs comply with the American with Disabilities Act.

Another part of the project includes adding a video detection system and pan tilt zoom cameras.

The video detection system, Cade said, is essentially a high-tech motion detector that will trigger traffic lights to change if no other traffic is coming in the opposite direction.

The zoom cameras are to be used for accident reconstruction and investigations, not for catching people running red lights, Cade said.

“We really struggled with this because we don’t want the public to perceive us as Big Brother,” Cade said.

The monitors for the cameras will be housed at the Ironton Police Department.

The project may also include removing some of the older overhead street lights in downtown.

Blankenship said, once the newer decorative lights with the hanging flower baskets were added, the older overhead lights added more cost to the city’s electric bill.

“The city spends $98,000 a year on lights,” Blankenship said. “We are trying to find ways to reduce that cost.”

Some of the new traffic lights may be turned on this week once the city coordinates with AEP, Cade said.