OCEAN CITY – The 131st Street traffic light will not be removed and will remain flashing following a majority vote from the City Council this week.
The traffic signal’s fate was put to a vote among the full City Council after the decision was made last week to table the discussion until all council members were present.
The State Highway Administration (SHA) came before the Mayor and Council last week for a fall review, giving updates on numerous projects including the 131st Street signal. Gene Cofeill, SHA representative and Ocean City resident, informed the council that he had observed the traffic on 131st Street this summer, looking at volume, delays, accidents, and so forth, and found no reason for the light to remain. As a result, he made the recommendation to the council, on behalf of the SHA, to remove the light.
At last week’s meeting, several residents of Montego Bay spoke in favor of the light, listing reasons ranging from safety to convenience.
Proponents maintained that the light was beneficial to the flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area. They also stated that the light allowed people to cross the street safely and allowed vehicles to access Montego Bay easily.
Cofiell, a resident of Montego Bay, maintained that the community could still easily be accessed via the 130th and 133rd streets lights.
The conflicting views were reflected in the council’s vote, which resulted in three favorable votes, two oppositions and one abstention. With Councilman Lloyd Martin absent last week, it was deemed necessary to hold off on the issue. The issue resurfaced this week with the entire council present to weigh in on the issue.
“I got about 3,000 phone calls it seems over this,” Martin said, adding that of the numerous people who contacted him to voice their opinion, the majority said that they wanted the light to remain standing.
Consequently, Martin said he would be voting in favor of keeping the light.
Councilman Jay Hancock said he agreed with SHA and pointed out holes in the proponents’ arguments the light was a safety issue.
“I would like to see the thing disappear,” Hancock said. “I think they’re stretching their argument to say that light is a safety feature.”
Hancock pointed out turning or crossing the street at the bordering lights, which have turn signals, is safer than at the flashing yellow light on 131st Street.
The council voted five in favor, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas in opposition and Council President Joe Mitrecic abstaining, to leave the traffic signal remaining as a flashing light. The Mayor and Council will review the situation again next fall.
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