EDMOND — Neighbors in Trails South are upset with city staff members because they can't have a traffic light at Countrywood Lane and Santa Fe Avenue, which is one entrance into their housing addition.
The widow and mother of Erron Heise, 39, who died 16 days after his motorcycle was hit by a pickup at that intersection, were among the 25 people who met this week with city staffers in a campaign for the traffic light.
The driver, Daniel Bricker, 54, of Edmond, admitted to police he looked down and didn't see the stopped motorcycle in front of his pickup.
Amy Heise and her husband of four years lived in the housing addition. Erron Heise was headed home just before 11 a.m. on Sept. 24 to look for their dogs when the accident happened on Santa Fe, Edmond police reported.
“My fight isn't for a stoplight,” Amy Heise said. “It would not have helped Erron. It would not have saved him.”
Amy Heise, who lives in the 1100 block of Bank Side Circle, wants additional police presence to slow the speeding vehicles on Santa Fe.
Police calculated Bricker was driving 55 mph in the 45 mph zone. Bricker faces a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge. He is free from jail on $2,000 bail. He is scheduled on the 8 a.m. Dec. 5 disposition docket in Oklahoma County District Court.
“The police have got to be there,” said Amy Heise. “I'm not opposed to the stoplight. It is scary when you turn left.”
She and her husband had speculated there was going to be an accident at that intersection because people drove too fast, she said.
Her neighbors want more. They definitely want a traffic light to correct a problem they said has been an issue for years.
They were invited to meet this week with Jim Smith, Edmond's assistant city manager of operations, and Tom Minnick, city traffic planner, to learn about a traffic study the city conducted at that intersection.
The traffic study calculated the number of vehicles that use that intersection and the number of accidents.
National standards outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices must be met before a traffic light can be installed in Edmond and anywhere else in the United States, Minnick said. The standards were first adopted in 1935.
The numbers don't meet the criteria to allow the city to install a traffic light at that intersection, Minnick said.
Upset with city
Most of the neighbors were angry to learn their intersection wasn't a candidate for a traffic light.
“We got what I expected, nothing,” Kathryn Olds, who lives in the 2000 block of Morrison Trail, said after the meeting. “We're going to vote in a new city council with brains and maybe we can get this accomplished.”
David Rice, who lives in the 100 block of Countrywood Lane, said, “The people want this. To hell with your figures, let the people get what the people want.”
“We are taxpayers and we need help and you are reluctant to give us any help,” said Fred Johnson, who lives in the 1100 block of Bank Side Circle.
Smith apologized, telling the neighbors that city officials had to live by the numbers and the regulations.
“We have to justify putting in a stoplight,” Smith said.
The city agreed to reduce the speed limit from 45 to 40 miles an hour from 15th Street to Danforth Road. They promised to place a trailer with the new speed limit information on Santa Fe and enhance traffic enforcement.
Some of the neighbors wanted a flashing light. Minnick said those are reserved for school zones.
“If we put them everywhere, they will lose their effect,” Minnick said.
City staff counted the traffic at Countrywood and Santa Fe for 24 hours starting at 10 a.m. on Oct. 8 and Nov. 7.
They found that northbound on Santa Fe there were 11,797 and 12,133 vehicles on those days. Going southbound, there were another 11,563 and 11,967 vehicles in a 24-hour period. Eastbound on Countrywood, there were 982 and 1,095 vehicles counted. The highest number of northbound vehicles turning left onto Countywood ranged from 1 to 120 over a one-hour period. The peak time was between 5 and 6 p.m.
From 2002 to 2013, there were 56 wrecks at the intersection. Of that total, 27 vehicles were hit from behind.
Neighbors argued that the city's numbers weren't accurate because people use the other two exits from the neighborhood to avoid the dangers at Countrywood and Santa Fe.
Donna Hall, Erron Heise's mother, said she didn't think the testing was over a long enough period of time.
“Dropping the speed limit five miles is not going to save a life,” Hall said.
John Berryman, who lives in the 2400 block of Countrywood Lane, said, “The numbers do not justify what is going on. It doesn't mean a thing.
“You can't turn left. I have been there for 13 years, and I won't let my daughter go out that way.”
“You can put down all the damn statistics, but we tell you we have a problem,” Rice said.