NEEDLES — Some of the confusion around Needles’ famous K Street railroad underpass and whose turn it is to go where and when may be cleared up soon with the installation of a stop sign on Front Street.
For the purposes of this report, it will be assumed Front Street runs east and west and K Street runs north and south despite what anyone’s compass might say about the matter.
As things stand, traffic heading east toward downtown on Front Street from its cul-de-sac west end in a residential area must stop at the intersection of North K Street.
Traffic emerging from the underpass southbound on K Street must stop at the intersection of Front Street.
Traffic on Front Street heading west into the residential area at its end is not required to stop. All this is further complicated by the stub end of K Street “south” of Front Street, which does not align with the portion that goes through the underpass.
It was pointed out by city council members during meetings last summer that situation prompted confusion and potential danger to motorists who couldn’t be sure whether or not west-bound traffic on Front Street was headed for the underpass or the cul-de-sac. As the portion that goes through the underpass is substantially lower than Front Street, sight lines are restricted and through traffic may easily be hidden by vehicles waiting their turn for the underpass.
The idea suggested at the time was to halt all west bound traffic on Front Street. Traffic studies were approved in September.
The result was to add a right turn only lane about 100 feet long east of the underpass on Front Street, along the Route 66 Train Park. A stop sign with a 12-inch-wide painted “stop bar” across both lanes of Front Street is to be installed at its intersection with the stub end of K Street. All traffic west bound on Front Street must stop at the sign. Motorists wanting to use the underpass will queue up in the right turn lane.
The stop sign on the opposite side of the underpass is to move forward 15 feet to allow south bound North K Street motorists a clear view of traffic negotiating the passage under the tracks.
Public hearings were conducted Oct. 22. An ordinance was drawn up amending city code to allow the stop sign and to certify that doing so would not cause any changes in the environment that would subject the installation to the California Environmental Quality Act.
The ordinance was introduced at the Nov. 12 city council meeting. The second reading was approved in the council meeting of Dec. 17.