Traffic has come to a stop on Highway 36 next to the shopping center and Chicken Express, and most residents are happy about it.
For the first time in many years the stoplight that has been blinking a yellow caution is now a fully functional traffic light. The Texas Department of Transportation switched it and the blinking light at the intersection of Highway 90 and Circle Street to operational traffic lights last week.
“I think it’s really good,” said Assistant City Manager Warren Escovy, who is the city’s liaison with TxDOT.
He said it was especially pleased to have the one on Circle Street upgraded and active.
“Now that we have the EMS station it’s important to have that light operational,” he said.
Police Chief Jay Reeves said he hope the lights will cut down on crashes.
“Through the years we have seen an increase in vehicle speed and crashes in these areas,” he said. “The city leaders have worked with the state for over two years to try and gets these lights activated. Even though the activation of the lights may be a minor inconvenience to some, the safety of all takes precedence.”
Escovy said part of the delay on behalf of TxDOT was the bidding process. He said the first bids came in too high and the project had to be re-bid. He said the lights are not on timers and are triggered by radar when a vehicle is present.
Activation of the lights has been generally well received by residents.
“I actually love it,” said Tammy Bolton, branch manager at Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union in Sealy. “It’s real easy for our customers.”
“From what I see, yeah sometimes there was hesitation,” said Sazzad Hossain, pharmacist in charge at M&D Pharmacy. “I see the police come racing in when someone does not stop at that stop sign.”
“I think they need to make it more safe,” Hossain added. “Because there’s so much traffic. Sealy’s a small town, but that is kind of like a bottleneck. Sometimes people will not do a full yield — they’ll just fly right through it.”
“I think it’s better than stopping at a stop sign,” said Ronny Habe, general manager of the Sealy Food Mart. “It gives more time for people to go by. Especially, when there’s an accident on I-10, and it gets busy as hell over here.”
Dezzarie Mauldin said she needs to get used to it.
“Yesterday, I stopped and started moving again. Husband reminded me there’s a stop light here now,” she said.
“I think both are needed as most people do not know how to proceed through an intersection with a four-way stop sign,” commented Maryann Ramirez.
“Well the one on 36 was much needed but I find the one by the stadium was only needed during school day arrival and dismissal,” Paul Berry said
Not everyone was pleased with switch.
“The one on 36 doesn’t seem necessary,” Kris Beck said.
The lights are part of an ongoing program by the Sealy Police Department to make the streets safer in town. About three months ago the city lowered the speed limit on Highway 36 between Interstate 10 and Schmidt Road from 45 mph to 35 mph in order to help reduce traffic accidents along that stretch.
(Trenton Hooker contributed to this story.)