Frustrated over long waits at some southeast Gilbert intersections, the mayor and a councilman want the town to buy more temporary traffic signals and rely less on police officers to direct traffic.
Councilman Steve Urie and Mayor Steve Berman have said purchasing temporary signals might be more cost-effective than paying overtime to police officers at $40 an hour, especially as the town struggles to find officers for the work.
Because of tremendous costs for transportation needs facing the growing town, officials have used both options to deal with an increasing amount of traffic.
The town has budgeted $794,000 for off-duty police officers, and $100,000 for temporary signals for fiscal 2005-06.
Urie said he often finds himself among drivers waiting for long periods at intersections policed by officers, as opposed to shorter waits at intersections with temporary or permanent signals.
"I’ve gotten extremely unhappy calls, people stuck in traffic two hours," Berman said. "I’d like to see something better than putting offduty officers at intersections. We’ve got some extraordinarily unhappy people out there."
Town Manager George Pettit told the Town Council at a recent meeting that the town is already pursuing more temporary signals, and recently contracted with a second company to hire police officers to direct traffic.
The Town Council directed the town last May to implement officer traffic control at 10 intersections during rush hours. Because of difficulty in hiring staff, in August the town dropped the program to five intersections with officers.
In late November, the town contracted with Right Choice to provide officers to direct traffic at three additional intersections.