We’re thrilled that the Metropolitan Planning Organization has developed a report describing a project to make it safer to cross the highways while hiking the Skyline Trail. A final design still needs to be developed, but below are three ways to make the crossings safer.
- Pedestrian Actuated Crossing Signal. This is the type of cross walk where a user presses a button to activate large LED lights to alert oncoming traffic to the presence of a pedestrian. These lights are bright and flashing on the Pedestrian sign on the side of the road. The advantage is that these crossings are relatively inexpensive, costly roughly $12,000 per installation. The disadvantage is that they may not effectively stop traffic due to the speed of oncoming cars as well as low visibility in the area. This can be dangerous, according to Porter, because we “don’t just want someone pressing the button, thinking they are okay, and then walking out and putting themselves in danger.”
- The HAWK beacon (High-Intensity Activated CrossWalk). This involves a large, pedestrian button activated, LED lighting beacon that sits above the traffic lanes (as opposed to on the side of the road). The advantage of the HAWK is that is provides better visibility to oncoming traffic and bigger, brighter LED warning beacons. The disadvantage is that these crossing are more expensive, between $75,000 – $100,000 per installation.
- An over-the-road footbridge. The advantage is that this bridge would allow safe crossing of these highways by avoiding interactions with oncoming traffic altogether. The disadvantages include the very high cost of building and designing such a bridge, as well as determining how it would impact traffic and tall trucks that use the route. Porter suggests that a bridge like this is “less realistic unless private money comes in. The DOT is not going to spend a million dollars or more to build something like that when their studies show that a crosswalk is sufficient.”