State of The Red Light: An Important Update

The hopes and dreams of county, city and board of education officials culminated Aug. 15 in a joyous explosion of red, green and amber when the new traffic signal in front of Dade County High School at long last burst forth into glorious light. Overcoming historical differences (if any) and declaring truce to (any possible) turf wars, the three agencies had worked tirelessly together as months turned into years to surmount the recalcitrance of the state transportation department and negotiate the vagaries of Georgia Power to get that light installed. Last week, their quest was finally rewarded.

But the great day left some Planet readers with lingering doubts. Would the red light stop traffic on Highway 136 even when school was not in session? they demanded. If not, when would it stop?

Not to leave those readers in suspense, The Planet issues this State of The Red Light update:

Yes, said county boss Ted Rumley, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has decided to leave the light functioning 24/7 for now. “They’re going to monitor it and see how the traffic flows,” he said by phone on Wednesday. That process should take a month or 45 days, said Rumley.

If GDOT decides to turn the signal off during non-class time, it will flash orange on the 136 side and red the other way during its down hours.

If, alternatively, GDOT decides to leave the light on constantly, matters will remain as they are, but Rumley says that shouldn’t concern drivers. “It’s not going to turn red anyway,” he said. The traffic light is equipped with sensors so that it only turns red on 136 when vehicles are waiting to come out of the school.

Rumley went on to address one other important traffic-light issue The Planet had not asked him about: the left-turn signal for drivers coming down Lookout Mountain to turn left into the school. “They only added that at the last minute,” said the Boss. “It wasn’t designed to have one.”

That’s why the turn signal hasn’t functioned so far, and that’s why it is hanging there inert with a bag over it. But GDOT is tweaking the signal, said Rumley, and the turn arrow should be up and running later this week or next. Until that time, those turning left into the school should continue to yield the right of way.

The county boss took the opportunity to make another traffic announcement: New Home Loop on Sand Mountain is now open again. The county had finished extensive work on the road earlier this morning. “The people up there will be glad to hear that,” said Rumley.

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