Installation of flashing lights in crosswalk begins

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Aug 2, 2007 - The flashing pedestrian crosswalk in front of the post office has been a long time in coming, and could take a while to complete, but finally got under way Thursday morning.

City work crews drilled five holes on each side of the crosswalk between the Post Office and First United Methodist Church parking lot Thursday morning. Flashing red lights will be installed in the road in the future, along with poles on either side of the crosswalk with buttons which pedestrians can push to activate the warning lights. Once pushed, the lighted pedestrian sign on the pole will be activated, and the flashing red lights in the road will go off as the pedestrian approaches, letting motorists know they must stop.

�The lights won�t be on all the time,� said Russ Nuss with the city�s capital construction projects division. �They�re solar powered.�

He assured that while the lights will be solar powered, the energy will be stored in the solar panels, enabling them to function on stormy days and after dark.

Nuss said the drilling of the holes is just the first step. Completion of the project could take a while, but it is under way.

The journey to installing the flashers at the crosswalk began the morning of Nov. 4, 2005. Anna Faye Crow, then 66, was crossing the street on the way to the post office when she was struck by a teen-age driver. Crow was taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

Two months later, Crow, still confined to a wheelchair, and facing the prospect of never using her arm and walking with a limp the rest of her life, was on hand to present a petition asking the city to to install some kind of caution device to protect people using the crosswalk.

The petition, signed by more than 1,100 people, was started by Crow's  friend, Elizabeth McGraw, who also wanted something done to slow traffic and offer a degree of safety for pedestrians at the location.

"A child could dart out from behind a car, or a person that is a lot slower than I was [could be hit] and it could fatal," said Crow when the petition was presented to City Manager Marc Maxwell. "I will be disabled for a lot of months to come, and the doctor tells me I will never be back to square one like I should. I don't want that to happen to anyone else."

The city manager, visibly moved by Crow's comments, said the petition would help in making the crosswalk safer.

"I think this is an opportunity to do something, and we have at least 1,105 people that agree," Maxwell said. "This really helps when it comes to making budgetary decisions, and I think this will make it a whole lot easier."

Just under one year ago, Maxwell announced that new technology was available that would allow the installation of bright, light emitting diodes — LEDs — into the pavement that would alert drivers when someone enters the crosswalk.

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