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FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2007
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Lights up at The Crossings
Traffic signals in place at new shopping center

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

In 1868, J.P. Knight invented the first traffic signal to control the flow of horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians in front of the British House of Commons.

Although the popularity of horse buggies plummeted in the 139 years since Knight's invention, the need for traffic signals increased with the mass production of the automobile.

GBT Realty Corp., developer of The Crossings, is relying on Knight's invention to ensure a smooth opening at Decatur's new shopping center Oct. 14.

"The purpose of installing the signals is to control the amount of traffic expected to be generated by The Crossings," said Don Robinson, GBT director of construction.

Located at the shopping center's entrances on Alabama 67 and U.S. 31, the signals will monitor the flow of traffic entering and exiting the complex. The traffic lights contain a left-turn signal, increasing the safety for drivers crossing lanes of oncoming traffic.

Testing phase

GBT expects to begin testing the traffic lights, currently covered with bags, by the end of next week, after they pass a final inspection by the Department of Transportation. During the testing period, the traffic lights will flash to acclimate drivers to the new signals.

Kerry Nesmith, DOT Division 1 traffic engineer, said the testing period usually lasts for three to seven days before becoming operational.

In addition to the traffic signals, GBT constructed a water retention pond and storm system at The Crossings. During rain, the storm system will collect excess water and distribute it to the retention pond. Without the retention pond, rain falling at the shopping center could overflow onto adjacent properties.

“Adding the basin and storm system is part of good engineering practice,” Robinson said. “It allows us to retain the same amount of water on the land that existed before the development.”

Except for a few modifications needed for the storm drains bordering the highway, the system is generally complete, Robinson said.

With the traffic signals and storm system on the verge of operation, GBT can mark two more items off its to-do list for the grand opening.

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