June 13, 2013 12:00AM
South Broadway in Pittsburg is about to get a little bit safer, thanks to new technology and cooperation between the university and the city.
Crews are working this week to install a new pedestrian hybrid beacon signal at Potlitzer and Broadway at a crosswalk popular with many Pittsburg State University students. Bill Beasley, director of public works for the City of Pittsburg, said the new signal is unlike anything in the city or the surrounding area.
Beasley said the Kansas Department of Transportation suggested the hybrid beacon during discussions about ways to make South Broadway around the campus safer.
The hybrid beacon, also known as a high intensity activated crosswalk, has been shown to reduce automobile-pedestrian accidents significantly, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency recommends them especially for transit and school locations.
Beasley said the signal will be dark, allowing traffic to flow normally, until a pedestrian activates the beacon by pushing a button. Immediately, a yellow light will flash, followed by two steady red lights to stop automobile traffic. When the “WALK” indicator flashes for pedestrians, the red lights will begin alternately flashing until the cycle has concluded. The signal will return to its dark status until again activated by a pedestrian.
“The advantage of a signal of this type,” Beasley said, “is that it does not affect traffic until there is a need to do so.”
Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said this is just another example of the many ways that university and city officials work together on projects that benefit students and the wider community.
“By working with PSU, the City is in the position to correct a dangerous high traffic crossing area, making it safer for everyone, students and commuters alike,” Hall said.
Shawn Naccarato, PSU’s director of government and community relations, said the Joint Safety and Planning Committee, composed of city and university officials, had studied a variety of options to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow around the campus.
“It was another example of how the city and the university are able to find creative solutions to shared problems by working closely together,” Naccarato said.
The city and the university are splitting the $78,000 cost of the project and the city is providing the engineering services.
Beasley said because the signal looks different from what most drivers and pedestrians are used to, the city has posted an informational video on its closed-circuit television channel.