Stop Sign Controversy: Former Road & Bridge Engineer Speaks - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/14/2008-Smith County

Stop Sign Controversy: Former Road & Bridge Engineer Speaks

They say "Stop," but two East Texas signs have some drivers so mad, they just drive right through them. 

Earlier this month we told you about two stop signs on Old Omen Road. The signs, which are on a through road, have some drivers simply ignoring them, others tearing them down and many wondering why Smith County Commissioners put them up in the first place. In a KLTV 7 exclusive, the County's former Road and Bridge Engineer gave his 2 cents.

"We really did not have the proper warrants to install it," said Bill Bala, former Road and Bridge Engineer for Smith County.

Bala said that last year Smith County Commissioners asked him if stop signs were needed at Old Omen and East Side Drive.

"They really don't fit the criteria that is laid down in the manual," said Bala. "In order to do it, you would need to do an engineering study and a traffic county study."

Bala said stop signs should not be used for speed control and should be installed to minimize the number of vehicles coming to a stop.

"You have to have a certain traffic count on the minor road to justify it," said Bala. "If the minor road doesn't get that much traffic, you don't put the stop signs on the major road. You don't put them in unless you have to."

Bala said he suggested hiring out to get a traffic count study, because without such a study, the signs could create more problems than they solve.

"You need to get the traffic counts and have an engineer sit down and make a recommendation what is best to do," said Bala. "If you don't have an engineering study to go with it and you've got these signs up andsomebody has a wreck, you are wide open for liability."

We asked Commissioner Bill McGinnis again about these signs

"An engineering study is not mandated, it is not mandated by state law," said McGinnis. "However when we get a new engineer on board I would like to have him or her do an engineering study on this intersection and put this thing to bed."

For now, McGinnis said the court will wait to perform the study until there is a new county engineer.

"I can get the person to do the engineering study under their duties and not have to hire an outside consultant and cost the taxpayers extra money for this extra project."

But Bala said the money is there and there is no reason to wait.

"There are lots of firms around town with the equipment and the expertise. It's in the budget. You can go get expert opinion. There is really no reason why not to," said Bala.

A heated debate, with no signs of stopping.

Bala did say there might be enough traffic on East Side Drive to warrant the sign's placement, but a study must be done.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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