Sheridan Mayor Says Accidents Bound to Happen on New Highway

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SHERIDAN, AR – The Mayor of Sheridan says an accident is bound to happen on a brand new highway because traffic stoplights there go out far too much.

Apparently, when they have been going out, they go black. They have no flashing red and no warning to drivers.

It’s happening at the intersection of two major state highways, HWY 167 and HWY 270.

Mayor Joe Wise is hoping to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

He says there’s a warrant on the product that ends in October.

“[It’s] An accident waiting to happen,” he said.

The HWY 167 addition is designed to divert trucks and traffic away from the City but Mayor Wise says it’s bound to cause a collision

“Oh it scares me to death,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s gonna be when it happens.”

As far as bypasses are concerned, 167 around Sheridan is essentially brand new. It was opened to traffic in April. In just the five months however, Mayor Wise says the lights have gone out a total of 18 times.

“You sign those agreements with the assumption that you’re gonna get a good working system,” he added. “Many times they’ve just gone black.”

He claims the problem is an equipment failure by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). He does say he knew up front that the City was going to be responsible for maintenance but didn’t expect it this soon.

The stop lights will be under the watch of AHTD and will be until the project is officially wrapped up, they say in November. However, according to AHTD, crews have determined there is nothing wrong with the traffic signal itself and may have more to do with the local power supply.

Danny Straessle with AHTD said, “There seems to be an unusual number of electrical grid outages in that area of Grant County that powers those traffic lights.”

C&L Electric Cooperative Corporation runs the power grid that includes the traffic signals there. They say there have been power outages but not as many times as the Mayor says the lights have gone out. They do say if that particular power grid went out it would affect that particular intersection.

To clear up any discrepancy, AHTD is installing a logging device in the traffic signal controls to track any future outages and see when they occur.

Furthermore, according to AHTD Engineers, if there was an internal problem with traffic signal circuitry, the lights would default to flashing red and not completely go out.

Recognizing that there is an issue regardless of the cause, AHTD is working with the City of Sheridan and Grant County toward a solution for a temporary fix if the lights go out again.

That could include a back-up battery or generator to power the lights for at least a few hours.

Mayor Wise says that could cost them and the County $7,500 to $10,000 per intersection to install.

He says a solution like that however, is a must for the next time the traffic signals go black.

“Oh it will go out,” he insisted. “I hate to say that but it will be out.”

According to AHTD all drivers should know that there are State laws in place for what you should do in a situation like this to ensure safety.

If traffic lights go dead you treat it as a four-way stop sign. For more on specific rules, click here and check pages 16-25, specifically under the section RIGHT-OF-WAY.

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