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.

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