New crosswalk signal intended to ease congestion
NEWARK, DEL. — After three years of discussion and two delays, a new pedestrian crossing signal on Main Street will finally be activated next week, just in time for the start of the university semester.
The signal, located where Main Street intersects the University of Delaware Green, is intended to reduce traffic backups that occur during peak classchange times.
Starting Thursday, the light will operate in a temporary flash mode for four days as a way to alert motorists and pedestrians of the new signal, according to a Delaware Department of Transportation spokeswoman. It will begin normal cycles at 9 a.m. Monday.
For years, cars have had to stop whenever a pedestrian wants to cross, causing delays when pedestrian traffic is heavy. A DelDOT study conducted last fall found that the crosswalk “starved the intersection” for 41 percent of the green light time in a one-hour period in the early afternoon, meaning that cars that could have proceeded through the intersection of Main Street and South College Avenue were instead blocked by pedestrians and backed up down Main Street.
With the new signal, vehicles and pedestrians will each get a turn to proceed.
The signal will be timed with the light at Main Street and South College Avenue. When that light turns red for Main Street traffic, so too will the new traffic light at the crosswalk, allowing pedestrians to cross. When Main Street traffic is allowed to flow, pedestrians will be required to stop.
Lt. Bill Hargrove, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department, said NPD will team up with UD Police to make sure pedestrians are aware they will have to stop at the crossing. Police will issue warnings to pedestrians who don’t abide by the light.
“Pedestrians are so used to coming down and being able to walk right across,” Hargrove said. “The big thing is making sure we have officers down there at the peak periods.”
First announced in late 2013, the crosswalk project was originally scheduled for last summer and then was pushed back to the winter. It was delayed again when UD requested – and agreed to pay for – specialorder decorative poles that better fit with the campus aesthetics.
The project was budgeted to cost the city $106,000, with an additional $9,000 contributed by UD.
A pedestrian signal is also planned for Delaware Avenue and The Green, but a timetable for its installation has not been determined.