I consider it part of my job to wonder about the things I see and ask why. Obviously it’s easier to do that when you’re new to the town because you don’t know all the history and you still notice things that long-timers have long since let blend into the background. That blending function is part of how our grey mass is hardwired so I realize that now is the time to be out looking, noticing, and asking before I too have become numb to the monotony of the day to day and the sights and sound that go with it. With that in mind I noticed that the intersection of Water Street (SR 43) and the Haymaker Parkway (SR 59) had a striped crosswalk at 3 out of the 4 legs — yet I frequently saw people trying to cross unprotected on the unmarked leg (from NAPA Auto Parts side to Walgreens). That led to my question of why? And in case you’ve ever wondered too, here’s the response from our Engineering Division.
We investigated the lack of a pedestrian cross walk on the west leg of the SR 43/SR 59 intersection.
Currently, the existing signalized intersection can not be upgraded easily to add a cross walk in that location. Specifically because of the lack of pedestrian signal heads, wiring and controller equipment required to make that happen. However, as part of the SR 59 Signalization upgrade we will be adding pedestrian crossings at all legs of the intersection. This project is scheduled for construction to begin in fall of 2009.
I can’t say why the signal was originally designed in this manner, however I can point out one negative ramification for adding a cross walk on the west leg. It has to do with the uniqueness of the intersection and the phasing required. The signal has the following general phases:
– Phase 1 – EB/WB movements permitted; NB & SB stopped
– Phase 2 – NB movement permitted (including protected left turn); EB, WB & SB stopped
– Phase 3 – SB Movement permitted (including protected left turn); EB, WB & NB stopped
This intersection has an extra phase because the major movement NB on SR 43 is to turn left onto SR 59 (ie dual left turn lanes). Therefore, the pedestrians crossing on the west side of the intersection would only be able to cross during Phase 3. Phase 3 is a very short phase (time wise). This is due to the minimal amount of southbound (SB) traffic from N. Water Street. Add to the fact that the west leg of the intersection is the widest leg (6 lanes) and would take the most time to cross (appx. 20 sec). Therefore if the phasing allows a pedestrian to cross the west leg, traffic in the intersection will be stopped longer than necessary to allow a pedestrian to cross. This would cause increase in delays (decreasing efficiency) at the signal. We plan on mitigating this with the new signal by only using the longer pedestrian crossing phase when a pedestrian calls for the movement (ie pushes the button).
We can discuss this the next time we meet if you have any questions.
Please forgive all the technical jargon but that’s what you get when you ask an engineer why. Basically, Jim is saying that the limitations of our current technology prevents us from optimizing the traffic flow enough to be able to add in time for pedestrians to cross. That being said however we’re going to keep looking at this and in the worst case scenario we may have to wait until next year when signal techonology for the 59 corridor should be upgraded.
This is a good example of where we’re working to leverage technology to be able to advance our community goals which includes being a pedestrian friendly city.