Citizens concerned over traffic light issue in New Hope

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In one day’s time, our newsroom received four phone calls and three emails, all from concerned residents in New Hope.

All of them said the same thing: the single stop light in the town, isn’t consistent, and they’re concerned for the safety of others.

“It seems like about every week the light goes out, where it’s just a flash,” said New Hope resident Konda Tapscott.

This light, at the corner of Highway 431 and Hobbs Island Road in New Hope has been broken more than not according to residents.

“I’ve seen it off and on since July, but the worst seemed to come right around November,” said Tapscott.

Half a dozen people reached out to us last week asking for help in getting it fixed.

In typical fashion, the day WHNT News 19’s Megan Brantley showed up, the light seemed to be working great.

But Konda Tapscott says she isn’t convinced it’s fixed for good.

She said the timing or lack there of, of the non-working lights, always end up on the worst days.

“Through Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving they were flashing and those are major travel times,” said Tapscott.

A time when many are in a hurry.

“I watch all of these vehicles coming through and they don’t stop on the flashing side where it’s red. They just take a chance,” said Tapscott. “It’s really scary if you sit and watch for a while, which I’ve done.”

She said she has witnessed several cars crashing into one another, because they’re not following the rules of the road.

“The red light means stop and the yellow light means caution.”

We’ve reached out to local and state agencies to check in on this particular light and find out if it’s fixed for good.

“I just want people to be able to come through this intersection safely. That’s my main goal,” said Tapscott.

On Wednesday, the Mayor of New Hope gave us some more perspective.  The city is trying to fix the light but problem after problem keeps popping up.

That particular traffic light has been around for roughly 24 years, and with more than two decades of snow, heat and rain, you’re bound to have a few problems.

Since the summer, New Hope Mayor Butch Taylor said the light finally started showing it’s age. All of a sudden it stopped the traffic cycle and just started to flash.

So the city called an electrical contractor. “They came over and checked it. They said we needed a new board inside the control box. That was about $3,500,” said Taylor.

The light worked great for a full 48 hours, then it went right back to flashing.  The culprit this time? Old wiring.

‘”The protective coating on the wires had worn off and was allowing the open wires, moisture to get on it,” said Taylor.

The total cost to basically replace the light will hit around $7,000.

“It was something we didn’t have in the budget to do. We did put a little money back for emergencies like this, but in a small town it does take away money that we could have used somewhere else,” said Mayor Taylor.

But there is a problem here that is bigger than the price tag.

“People don’t abide by the law.”

The law states that if the light is flashing yellow, proceed with caution.  If it’s flashing red, stop and look before crossing.

That is a basic lesson from the first week of driver’s education. But for some, they’ve let those rules slip their mind.

The New Hope Police Department was happy to refresh their memory.

In the last two weeks, officers have written nearly 100 tickets at that intersection for those not stopping. In fact, some are not even slowing down. Drivers have been caught going at speeds of 80, 90, even 100 mph.

That is a problem drivers can control, and is a problem that even a functioning traffic light can`t fix.

The City of New Hope scheduled a contractor ten days ago to fix the light and the new wiring is set to be replaced on Thursday morning.

So if you travel on Highway 431 near Hobbs Island Road, you can expect a delay on your morning and afternoon commute.


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