City installs four-way stop

Community adapts to change at Third and Spencer amid downtown traffic concerns


Community members are still getting used to the installation of a four-way stop at Third and Spencer St., which traditionally was a two-way until Wednesday morning, April 10, 2024.

“Today I’m keeping an eye on them,” said Officer Derek Holmes, “People are so used to how it’s been: a two-way intersection with stops signs only on the north and south end.”

He’s been patrolling the intersection, giving warnings to pedestrians driving through the four-way. Up until now, motorists weren’t asked to stop on Third St. at the intersection.

“I’ve lost count of how many have gone through today,” he says with a chuckle, “But no tickets have been written today; I’m just giving them a simple warning.”

There are several reasons the two-way stop has been converted into a four-way stop, all of which concern safety of drivers as well as foot traffic in the area.

“As the downtown area grows, there’s more pedestrian traffic, so were trying to make it safer for them as well,” says Police Chief Josh Houser.

The intersection is about a quarter block east of Third and Columbus St., one of West Liberty’s busier intersections, especially later in the afternoon.

 Jeff’s Market, the community’s most popular grocery store, along with several other businesses are located at Third and Spencer St. in downtown West Liberty.

So, by making it a four-way stop the hope is to protect pedestrians, as well as slow down traffic along Third St., which is a tempting area to speed through for many drivers.

“This specific block is known for a lot of speeders,” says Officer Holmes. “I think having the intersection here will hopefully stop that and slow people down.”

On top of that, turning onto Third St. from Spencer St. has always been somewhat hazardous for turning vehicles.

With all the parked cars along Third St., it’s always been difficult to see while turning from Spencer St. onto Third St.

There’s never been a major accident, but complaints about the blind turn at the intersection have been logged at the city and the police department for years.

“It’s a way to make the intersection safe for all the motorists there. It’s a difficult intersection to navigate in the afternoon,” says Chief Houser, however:

“We understand that it’s going to take some time to get used to it, so we’re trying to give people the time,” he adds. “We know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

At first the city had a temporary stop sign in the middle of the intersection to help drivers see the change. For the first week they have been warning motorists.

“I just want to give people a reminder to be observant,” adds Officer Holmes. “We don’t want to see an accident, so please be mindful of the stop sign.”

Back in June, 2017, stop signs were placed at the intersection of the neighboring intersection of Fourth and Spencer St. by the public library per request from the library board.

Back in March, 2019, the traffic signal that hung over Third and Columbus St. for six decades was put on display at the West Liberty Heritage Museum.

A special request in December, 2018, temporarily removed the light to accommodate over-height traffic, but its removal revealed deterioration of the light.

So, the latest change to a four-way stop at Third and Spencer St. marks just another minor change towards safety in downtown West Liberty.