Red light blues

Motorists have been seeing red at the intersection of Old Hwy. 8 N.W. and Tenth Street N.W. ever since a truck and trailer, hauling a big loader southbound on Old Hwy. 8 attempted a right turn onto Tenth Street. That happened in the middle of December at New Brighton's busiest intersection, across from the city's Family Service Center.

The truck driver cut the turn short, and the loader clipped and twisted part of the overhead structure resulting in a kink in the vertical traffic light tower. The mishap created the need for lots of replacement parts.

But that was a week before Christmas and New Brighton city officials must be getting bombarded with questions from motorists playing Dodgem Cars while trying to figure out whose turn is it to go.

"Oh, we are," said Grant Wyffels, director of public works for the city. "But," he went on, "Old Hwy. 8 is a county road and the traffic lights are the responsibility of Ramsey County as well."

"It's definitely our responsibility," said Erin Laberee, traffic engineer for Ramsey County Public Works. "The east [north at that particular point] side of Tenth Street is also a county road, " she added.

The west [south] side is a New Brighton city street. So, if the responsibility for repairing and reprogramming the lights, flashing red since Dec. 18, is clear, what's the holdup?

"The weather, for sure," Laberee said. The parts have arrived but the ground needs to be thawed before a hole can be dug for a new foundation.

"Then we'll be pouring a base, and when that hardens, the lights will be installed and functional."

There's a portable heater thawing the frozen ground as you read this, and, barring any unforeseen difficulties, look for those missing green lights on Feb. 8.