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Traffic changes coming to Lansing

An aerial photograph of downtown Lansing depicts how the roadway will look
once the town’s lone traffic light is removed. A painted traffic island can be
seen at the corners of this prominent intersection of Highway 194.
Painted pedestrian crosswalks have also been proposed with this plan.

Originally published: Jan. 23, 2013
Last modified: Jan. 23, 2013

Jesse Campbell

Like the Virginia Creeper Railroad and the town’s only community bank, the lone signal light in downtown Lansing will, too, soon be a distant memory.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will soon be dismantling the town’s iconic traffic signal in favor of a three-way stop sign system, similar to the one incorporated in downtown West Jefferson.

Dean Ledbetter, traffic engineer for the DOT’s Division 11, said the three-way stop system is just the beginning for planned improvements to curb speeding in the downtown and create safer crossings for visitors and merchants. 

“This is similar to changes we’ve made in West Jefferson,” said Ledbetter. “If a driver sees a green light ahead of them, they will not be inclined to stop or yield to pedestrians.”

Ledbetter said the recommendation was originally introduced as part of the town’s pedestrian plan with assistance from the High Country Council of Government. 

“We think this will slow drivers down,” said Ledbetter. “They may or may not have to stop at a traffic signal, but this will give drivers the incentive to slow down.”

Right-of-way for a three-way stop system works the same way the four-way system does in West Jefferson.

The first vehicle at the intersection has the right-of-way. 

If two vehicles arrive at the stop sign at the same time, the driver on the right should enter the roadway first. 

Changes to the downtown’s traffic pattern and asphalt landscape won’t stop there. 

Ledbetter said the DOT also plans to add a painted pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of B Street and Highway 194 North.

This will allow pedestrians who park on the other side of town next to the fire department safe crossing conditions from the parking lot to the post office, said Ledbetter. 

In addition, roadway engineers will also create painted islands and markings at the corners of B Street and the corner of Highway 194 and Big Horse Creek Road. 

This, too, will help create a better line of sight for pedestrians crossing the highway, said Ledbetter. 

“All of this – the traffic signal and crosswalk – is going together,” said Ledbetter. “Hopefully, it will help drivers know they are in an area where they can expect pedestrians and the need to slow down and drive respectively.”

Last week, the town also voted to rescind the town’s previous 45 miles per hour speed limit.

Ledbetter said the speed limit coming into town from Warrensville will now decrease from 45 to 35 mph. The town’s 20 mph speed limit in downtown will remain unchanged. 

A definitive schedule for the removal of the traffic signal and incorporation of the stop signs has not been established.

“What we will do is wait for a dry-stretch in the weather,” said Ledbetter. “We will let the weather dictate.”

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.