Gettysburg, in west-central Adams County, Pa. takes pride in being “the most famous small town in the world.” It is slightly more than one and-a-half square miles, and has 16 traffic lights within its boundary.[pullquote]“Then she looked up.
At the green light.”[/pullquote]
There are a few more traffic lights in the county, most to the east of the borough, a couple to the north – but none to the west (not counting the light on U.S.30 northwest of the borough. That is about to change. A traffic light is planned for installation in Hamiltonban Township, barely across the town line at the west edge of the tiny borough of Fairfield.
PennDOT requires the existing intersection be rebuilt and the light installed a part of the permit to allow access to a planned grocery shopping center in the field between Fairfield and Iron Springs roads, across from the Towne Center and the Sunoco station.
I’m somewhat mixed about that new traffic light. So far, the parade of vehicles passing through the nearly mile-long 25 mph speed zone keeps traffic pretty tame. Calm, traffic engineers call it. But when the grocery store shopping center goes in across the street from the Dollar General/bank/gas station, making a left turn from either side could get interesting. Thus the need for the first traffic light on that side of the county.
It is not a new situation. The county seat where I was raised had, for many years even after I left to join the Navy, one traffic light. It was the only such light in the county. Farmington residents were proud of their traffic light at the intersection of Main and Broadway.
Then development happened outside town. A new bridge was built over the Sandy River and a new intersection constructed at either end of it to accommodate the new smoother flow of traffic the bridge and intersections would make possible.
And a traffic light was installed at the Bridge Street end. For several years, the light hung over the junction of the two roadways. Blinking. Red for traffic on Bridge Street, yellow for vehicles on the state road over the bridge.
Then one day a young lady of my acquaintance came to the light at the end of Bridge Street and stopped, as she had many times before. She sat and waited for traffic on the main road to clear. She noticed a few of the vehicles stopping, though they had, she thought, a blinking yellow light and should have kept going.
Horns began to blow behind her; she initially waved them off because she was, after all, just being careful.
Then she looked up.
At the green light.
Sometime in the night, DOT workers had turned the light from blinking to cycling. The blowing horns were other drivers wishing she would go with the green light.
Her face a bit reddened, drove onto the state highway and continued on her way.
How long the light in Hamiltonban Township blinks likely will depend on the economy. A huge housing development – almost equivalent to a small town was planned for the township, until the Crash of ’08. New homes represent customers for the grocery store – customers who will need a traffic light for entering and exiting the two shopping centers.
There will be little need for the new light until the homes and the new store are built. Until then, I hope PennDOT leaves it blinking.
In which case, I wonder how many of the drivers who regularly stop for the blinking red light – will not notice when it turns green.