May 25—Driving through historic downtown Claremore will start to look different as crews work to replace stoplights with stop signs.
Public Works Administrator Jonah Humes said the decision to switch from stoplights to stop signs was made to improve the flow of traffic.
"It will just help the flow of traffic downtown because the stoplights would back up traffic and we continued to get complaints about it," Humes said. "We looked at it and everyone agreed it would be a good choice."
Humes said the city did not conduct a traffic study to determine the need for the signs, but the need was clear by driving through downtown.
"It was apparent that the stoplights weren't efficient just by driving downtown," he said.
Humes said the lights were installed long before he became the Public Works Administrator and estimated they were put in 10 plus years ago. He said the signs are better for the level of traffic in downtown.
"Unless there is high volume, stop signs are usually ideal," he said.
The project will cost less than $5,000 and is expected to be completed next week depending on weather, he said. The signs are placed on the existing light poles and only the lights themselves were removed. Humes said the city is always making stop signs so it wasn't a big project for them.
Carol Thibodeau, owner of Rhapsody Boutique and Spa, and Jeff Mathis, owner of The Pickin' Queen said when stop signs were discussed in the past, they were told the goal would be to help people slow down and look at shops more.
"If people are going to look, they are going to look whether its a four-way stop or a light," Thibodeau said.
Both merchants said they were unaware the change was happening this week. Thibodeau said she realized the city was swapping the lights for signs when her power went out on Wednesday.
"When I saw last week that the lights were blinking, I was thinking, 'hmm'," she said. "Then today we lost power and we go out and look and saw them working on the poles and we were like 'Oh, it's a real thing."
Thibodeau said a lot of the congestion in front of her store is caused by the trains. She said she was for it if the stop signs help with drivers being able to pull out of a spot.
"I've tried to back out of there and I was really locked in my spot for about eight minutes," she said.
Mathis said he was apprehensive when he first saw the signs going up, but then realized how beneficial the signs will be for business. He said he believes the signs will help people park and pull out more easily. It will also cut down on the east to west drivers stuck at a red light when there are rarely north to south drivers, he said.
"I think it's a great idea now," Mathis said.