Farmington — A new policy adopted by City Council requires compliance with Federal Highway Administration requirements before installation of traffic control signals such as stoplights, four-way stops, roundabouts or medians.
Supporters of the policy say it will ensure traffic control signals are in spots that will keep traffic flowing efficiently. Opponents say the policy will reduce the public's ability to influence those decisions.
Before the policy, the decision to install stoplights or four-way stop signs could be hijacked by emotion, special interest groups and money, said Mayor Tommy Roberts.
The requirements are based on an analysis of the roadway's eight-hour, four-hour and peak-hour vehicle volume; pedestrian traffic; school crossings; history of crashes; other nearby roadways; intersections near a grade crossing; and existing coordinated signal systems, according to the city's "Traffic Control Signal Study Guidelines." The requirements are based on a Federal Highway Administration document.
The signal will have to comply with one of nine of the federal requirements. Traffic engineering studies will determine how many requirements a roadway meets, according to the document.
Roberts and councilors Dan Darnell and Gayla McCulloch voted for the policy. Councilors Mary Fischer and Jason Sandel voted against it.
In an Oct. 1 work session, Sandel urged council to approve a stoplight at the intersection of Pinon Hills and Dustin Avenue, later adding that his father had offered to donate the required money for the construction, according to the minutes from that work session.
City council also discussed on Sept. 17 whether the city should place traffic lights at the intersection of Pinon Hills and Butler Avenue, the site of the car accident that killed 18-year-old Andrew Pope on Aug. 2. Pope, a star football player at Aztec High School, died when turning left onto Pinon Hills from Butler and colliding with a commercial truck, according to police.
"Some of these intersections get emotional," McCulloch said, adding that the new policy will remove that influence.
But Sandel said discussion of those two intersections were not governed by emotion, special interest groups or money. The community of those areas just asked for the council's help, he said.
Also, the city requires developers who significantly impact an area -- such as churches or Walmarts -- pay for a traffic impact analysis, he said. And if the study warrants traffic lights, the developer has to pay to instal them, he said.
"My father is simply putting his money where his mouth is," he said.
The policy took effect Thursday.