Over the years, we’ve observed the activities of Sterling’s city government, and we believe it to be progressive minded. Through one development project after another, city leaders have stopped at nothing to move Sterling forward into the 21st century.
Unfortunately, a 19th-century attitude persists with respect to certain intersections on the city’s west side.
They don’t have stop signs. Or even yield signs.
Motorists are left to fend for themselves when approaching and entering those “Wild West” intersections.
Authorities call them uncontrolled intersections.
And the lack of control can create frightening, dangerous situations.
A 32-year-old motorist who lives in Oregon but sometimes works in Sterling related a close call last week. He said he was almost T-boned at an intersection on West Seventh Street. No stop signs govern the corner.
Also last week, a vehicle carrying a 29-year-old woman and her 15-month-old niece was struck at West 10th Street and Avenue – also an uncontrolled intersection.
Other uncontrolled intersections in the area mean that motorists who travel through must be watchful.
A veteran Sterling police officer who tracks accident data was contacted by Sauk Valley Media. He said it is his opinion that the city needs no stop signs at its uncontrolled intersections on the city’s west side. The lack of traffic volume and lack of traffic crashes led him to that conclusion.
The police officer is entitled to his opinion.
We are entitled to ours.
Motorists are accustomed to seeing traffic control signals and signs as they drive along streets, roads and highways. They expect to see them throughout their daily travels.
When drivers approach an intersection without a stop sign, they may just assume it is safe to enter. They may just assume the cross traffic is controlled. But that’s not the case at uncontrolled intersections.
Mayor Skip Lee, who has been in office for 2 years, said he believes in the value of stop signs at city intersections.
“If we stop one accident, then the signs are paid for,” Lee said.
But some City Council members don’t see it that way, and the status quo remains.
Regarding cost, we checked safetysign.com for a general price range. Assuming a bulk purchase, one medium-sized stop sign and 6-foot post can be had for about $75. Larger signs and taller posts cost more.
For a modest investment, then, the city could bring safety and certainty to its “Wild West” intersections, lessen the chance for crashes, and quite possibly decrease its legal liability.
We urge city leaders to stop, look, listen to common sense, install stop signs at uncontrolled intersections, and bring Sterling’s west side up to 21st-century traffic standards.