City officials, citizens and representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) gathered Wednesday to officially open the new crosswalk linking downtown Edmonds, Point Edwards, and the Edmonds Marsh.
Under construction since late last year, the crosswalk employs the latest innovative design and engineering to ensure a safe pedestrian path across a very busy section of highway, the State Department of Transportation said.
“We call this type of crosswalk a HAWK, which stands for High Intensity Activated Crosswalk” said WSDOT’s Mike Allende. “Pedestrians won’t notice much difference from a standard crosswalk, but motorists will.”
It’s all in the way the high-intensity overhead lights provide a series of bright, attention-grabbing signals. Here’s how it works:
A push of the crosswalk button immediately activates a flashing yellow light on the overhead cross arm, a warning to motorists to slow down and stop. Within a few seconds the flashing light turns solid yellow, and then switches to solid red. At this point the familiar pedestrian walk light turns on, indicating that it’s safe to cross, while providing a numerical second-by-second countdown showing the remaining time. The overhead light next switches to flashing red, indicating to motorists that they may proceed one car at a time as long as no pedestrians remain in the crosswalk. Finally the lights turn off, and traffic proceeds as normal.
Seven-year Point Edwards residents Reid and Jeri Schoenfeld were on hand to try out the new crosswalk.
“This is great! It benefits everyone and has been needed for a long time,” said Reid. “We walk to downtown Edmonds four to six times a week, and literally had to run across the street. It felt like we were taking our life in our hands. We’ll be coming over a lot more now!”
Mayor Dave Earling was also on hand to give the new crosswalk a try.
“This is a very good thing for Edmonds,” said Earling. ” We now have an easy, safe, pedestrian link between downtown, City Park, Harbor Square and the neighborhoods south of SR 104. And we’re one big step closer to the goal of having a walkable community.
— Story and photo by Larry Vogel