Completed just in time for local school students to return from Spring Break, the new pedestrian signal at West F Street (Highway 108) and Lee Avenue is going to take a bit of getting used to.
But when it comes to the safety of pedestrians in the city, the project looks like it could be a winner.
Caltrans recently completed the installation of what they termed an “innovative project” to upgrade the pedestrian crossings at State Route 108 and Lee Avenue, helping improve pedestrian safety.
“This intersection is heavily used by businesses and residents, with three schools in close proximity,” Caltrans said in a news release announcing the project completion.
The new crossing includes an overhead beacon that first slows down, then stops the traffic.
“We’ve needed it,” said crossing guard Cindy Perez, who has helped school children and pedestrians get across the street at the intersection for the past three years. “It’ll be a lot of relief for the kids I have to cross and their parents.”
As a crossing guard, she is stationed at the crosswalk at specific morning and afternoon times, helping make sure students get to and from school safely. The upgraded crossing will go a long way in making that happen, she said.
There will be a learning period for both pedestrians and motorists, with a wait period for pedestrians after they push the signal. The lights flash yellow and ultimately turn red, effectively stopping traffic. Pedestrians get a countdown once they start across the intersection, alerting them to the time they have left.
Perez said the overhead lights are especially helpful for drivers eastbound on the highway, as they are coming in to the city limits and need to start dropping their speed.
Caltrans officials said the project will improve safety and mobility for residents and businesses, and bolster California’s Active Transportation Program. That program is designed to increase the number of walking and cycling trips, improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and non-motorized users, enhance public health and reduce greenhouse gases.
Work on the system was done over the past several weeks and included installation of the HAWK, High Intensity Activated Crosswalk, beacon system. The overhead traffic light-style warning system first flashes yellow when triggered by a pedestrian, followed by a solid yellow and then a red light – with the red light requiring motorists to stop at the crosswalk.
Officials said that while it is slightly different in appearance, the beacon’s function is very similar to the traditional traffic light in that it stops traffic and allows pedestrians to cross safely. The beacon is inactive unless it is triggered.
Robert J. Frank Construction of Redding performed the work for $204,060.