May 22, 2019 -- Two new pedestrian hybrid beacon traffic signals coming to Traverse City's Grandview Parkway next month are expected to provide a safer and more comfortable crossing for pedestrians, as well as clear direction to drivers as they approach.
The new signals, sometimes referred to as HAWK (High-intensity Activated crossWalK) signals, will be installed at the US-31/M-72 (Grandview Parkway) crosswalks near Hall Street and Elmwood Avenue. Installation is expected to occur in early June.
"These signals have been shown in other communities to provide safe crossing points for pedestrians on demand, while allowing vehicle traffic to flow when pedestrians are not crossing," said Rick Liptak, manager of the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Traverse City Transportation Service Center (TSC). "We've heard a lot of support for this upgrade, which will help provide more comfort and safety to pedestrians moving between the downtown area and the lakeshore."
The beacon includes two red lights side by side at the top, with a yellow light below. The lights remain dark, indicating drivers can proceed with caution through the crosswalk, until a pedestrian activates the beacon. A lighted sign reading "Crosswalk – Stop on Red" will hang alongside the signal head.
The system includes roadside signs advising pedestrians on its operation, and roadside signs advising drivers of a crosswalk ahead will remain. A sign reading "Proceed on Flashing Red if Clear" will be mounted on the signal poles.
The signals are activated by pedestrians with a push button located at both ends of the crosswalk. Once activated, the signals facing drivers will display a flashing, then steady, yellow caution light, indicating to drivers they should slow and prepare to stop. Pedestrians will see an orange "hand" signal, indicating they should wait to begin crossing.
When both red lights turn solid, drivers must stop while pedestrians cross. At the same time, pedestrians will see a white "person walking" silhouette signal, letting them know they can begin crossing. That phase of the signal initially will be timed at seven seconds.
Like pedestrian signals at other intersections, pedestrians will see a flashing orange countdown letting them know how much time remains for them to cross. The countdown initially will be timed at 20 seconds at Elmwood Avenue (because of the greater distance to cross) and 16 seconds for Hall Street, giving a total time to cross of 27 and 23 seconds, respectively. As the countdown begins, the red lights will begin flashing, indicating to stopped drivers that they may proceed with caution if the crosswalk is clear, similar to at a stop sign.
Once the pedestrian crossing phase has ended, the signals above the roadway will become dark, traffic will flow as usual, and pedestrians will again see the orange "hand" signal.
All timing can be adjusted in the future based on field observations. Painted stop bars on the pavement will be located 40-50 feet before the crosswalk, giving drivers clear view of any pedestrians who are crossing. There will be a minimum of 30 seconds before the pedestrian signal will cycle again.
The pedestrian hybrid beacon signals are being installed to improve pedestrian safety on Grandview Parkway. Field observations over the past two summers showed that Hall Street and Elmwood Avenue crosswalks had enough pedestrian crossing activity to warrant the pedestrian hybrid beacons, but the crosswalk at Oak Street did not. The crosswalk at Oak Street will have the standard pedestrian warning signs installed; no in-street crosswalk signs will be used in the future at any of the Grandview Parkway crosswalks.