With the elimination of the stoplight at Third and Center, people parking west of Third St. but needing to access downtown’s shopping and dining options now only have one signal-controlled crosswalk — that at Third St. and Broadway.

Drivers are slowly getting the hang of a new traffic pattern in downtown Hannibal. The intersection at Third St. and Center St. — infamously the site of a crash in which a pickup truck barreled through the area and barreled through the Courier-Post’s front entrance in 2016 — is no longer controlled by a stoplight.

Drivers heading north/south on Third St. are met with yellow flashing lights while east/westbound vehicles on Center meet a stop sign and red flashing lights.

Some drivers are still confused by this seemingly easy situation: drivers on Third St. have the right-of-way and are not required to stop at the intersection, while drivers on Center St. must yield to the north/southbound traffic.

Ultimately, we’re not concerned about the traffic at the intersection. Once drivers get used to the change, traffic should flow normally, as it does with other similar intersections at Third and Bird, Third and Hill, and Third and North.

What causes us some amount of unease is the loss of the pedestrian crossing afforded by a signal-controlled intersection. With the Courier-Post sitting right at the northeast corner of the intersection, we know first-hand how much foot traffic crosses that intersection.

We see families pushing strollers, teenagers, seniors, large groups, and tourists cross Third St. at Center. Our own staff members use the crosswalk regularly to get to places like City Hall, Central Park, and, yes, the Subway restaurant.

With the elimination of the stoplight, people parking west of Third St. but needing to access downtown’s shopping and dining options now only have one signal-controlled crosswalk — that at Third St. and Broadway.

We feel this poses a risk for pedestrians, most of whom will probably not walk the extra block to three blocks to use the safest crossing. This is particularly problematic during large festivals when Main St. is closed to vehicular traffic and parking is at a premium. It’s already a hazard, with pedestrians playing real-life Frogger as they dodge traffic to get to downtown events. The crossing at Third and Center provided that safe access point to downtown.

While we agree with the Missouri Department of Transportation that removing the stoplights will probably improve traffic flow in downtown Hannibal, a pedestrian initiated stoplight at Third and Bird or Third and North should be considered to enhance the safety of people needing to access the vital downtown area. This type of crossing only halt traffic when a pedestrian needs to cross but otherwise does not disrupt the flow of vehicles.