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Graham becomes first Triad city with horizontal traffic lights

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GRAHAM, N.C. — A few of Graham’s busiest intersections are now home to the only horizontal traffic signals in the Piedmont Triad.

City manager Chris Rollins said Graham asked the N.C. Division of Highways for three new, horizontal traffic lights in an effort to relieve congestion on the downtown roadways.

“Especially at Main and Harden, traffic’s heavy. You’re actually making that left-hand turn after you’ve been sitting in the intersection and the light’s actually turning red, so you got people zipping through trying to get by,” Rollins said.

“I think it’s made all three of the intersections much safer than they were. Nobody likes being stuck there in traffic.”

One of the reasons vertical lights weren’t installed, Rollins said, was that they would’ve weighed down the power lines — making it difficult for tractor-trailers to pass through city streets.

In addition, NCDH officials said vertical lights would have required city officials to replace its current steel poles. The poles were constructed in the 1950s and the replacement process would have been costly, officials said.

“We were looking at anywhere from $50,000 to well over $100,000 to have those poles replaced,” NC DOT spokeswoman Dawn McPherson said.

But most drivers say they’re noticing the new fixtures for a different reason — the classy look.

“It looks neat. I like the way it looks. It goes with the environment — like the old-school style,” one driver said.

Other drivers say they’ve taken notice to how quickly they’re making it through an intersection thanks to the new green arrows that serve as signals.

The lights were installed in mid-December. McPherson said there’s a chance more horizontal signals could be installed across the Triad if the procedure were to save money again.