The Clintonville Common Council approved the installation of LED lighted crosswalk signs at the US 45 crosswalk near Campus Drive.
At a special meeting Monday, Oct. 25, council members discussed the safety issues surrounding the crosswalk.
“The Department of Transportation will not put in a stop light on the south end of US 45,” explained City Administrator Lisa Kuss. “They did approve a walkway near Campus Drive; that is the only place where they would approve a crosswalk. A painted crosswalk will be present, and we can put in signs as well.”
Kuss stated that LED lighted reflective crosswalk signs can be installed for $10,400. Of that amount, $6,400 covers the LED lighted signs, the solar system that would power the signs, poles and other materials. The remaining $4,000 would cover the cost of conduit and installation.
The LED lighted system is controlled by a button. Walkers can push the button to turn on the LED lights on the crosswalk signs. The lights stay on for an interval of time and then shut off. The lights are re-activated by pushing the button again.
Public Works Manager Mike McCord said that simple reflective signs could be installed for much less than $10,400, though he expressed his concern over safety at the crosswalk. He noted that motorists are not expecting pedestrians in that area.
“I’m disappointed and frustrated that the DOT won’t support a controlled crossing,” McCord said. “Unfortunately, the current situation is as good as it gets in a bad situation with the state. We can’t guarantee anyone’s safety. Someone will probably have to get hurt before the state will allow us to have a controlled intersection on south US 45.”
The council was informed that there will be street lamps at the crosswalk, which will help illuminate the area, but many council members discussed their concerns with walkers trying to cross US45 in the dark. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour at the crosswalk area, and city officials said the state would not allow the speed limit to be lowered.
Police Chief Terry Lorge said enforcing pedestrian safety is always a challenge, and voiced his concerns over the crosswalk on US 45.
“It’s a four-lane highway and traffic moves fast out there,” he said. “I’m not sure if we are putting out a false sense of security for the pedestrians with this lighted sign. I’m concerned that traffic won’t yield. Adding caution signs at the pedestrian walkways is probably the best we can do. Adding these lighted LED signs would make it safer if it doesn’t give pedestrians a false sense of security that causes them to think traffic will stop when they see the lights. “
Alderperson Gloria Dunlavy also expressed concerns with the crosswalk. “A lighted sign is not going to stop traffic,” Dunlavy stated. “I’m concerned that pedestrians will think, ‘I pushed the button, now I can walk’ which gives them a false sense of security.”
Mayor Judy Magee stated that people are using the crosswalk already, and stated that she was in favor of having the LED signs placed at the crosswalk with the funding to come from the capital budget, as recommended by Kuss. Magee also stated that she would continue working with state officials to bring a controlled intersection to south US 45.
“There’s no doubt the crosswalk will be safer with the lighted signs,” Kuss said. “I recommend you spend the money for the LED lighted signs and possibly consider caution signs that the pedestrians will see before attempting to cross the highway.”
The installation of LED lighted signs at the crosswalk was approved by a 6-2 vote with Dunlavy and Phil Rath voting no. Alderpersons Roger Metzger and Pete Stumbris were absent-excused from the meeting.