Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Traffic Light Where Mike Was Hit

Council votes to install traffic light at intersection of Whiton and Main Street

The Whitewater Common Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to install a traffic light at the intersection of Whiton and Main Street, pending the decision of funding for the project.Chancellor Richard Telfer was pleased to see progress was made."The real issue is pedestrian safety, although money is still a significant issue," Telfer said. "Although the current flashing lights at eye level are a great help, they don't address the total issue."Councilman Roy Nosek led the opposition of the traffic light installation, saying the current lights are not making the problem go away, but are helping to diminish it."We need to reduce the amount of traffic on Main Street," Nosek said. "There needs to be restrictions on parking for people who live close to campus."Nosek proposed limiting parking restrictions of students who are close enough to walk to their classes. This in turn would reduce traffic of students trying to find parking spots in between classes, Nosek said.Both Councilmen James Allen and Lynn Binnie agreed with Nosek to vote against installing a traffic light.Allen motioned the city staff to continue to observe other alternatives for the intersection, saying pedestrian safety was improving after the installation of the flashing crossing lights at the intersection.Binnie wanted the city to agree to install brighter lighting at the dangerous intersections for pedestrian safety at night."My gut says eventually there will be a traffic light," Binnie said. "For now we should focus on better lighting and improvements for disabled accessibility."An appeal for safety enhancements was made after UW-Whitewater graduate Mike Chaloupka, 23, died last September from injuries sustained after he was hit by a car while crossing the intersection in his wheelchair.Allison Rygh, Whitewater student government president, agreed with Telfer on the Council's vote. Rygh said the installation of a traffic light was the best decision for pedestrian safety.The other two alternatives traffic engineer Luke Homan of Strand and Associates proposed was the installation of a pedestrian refuge island, and construction to turn Whiton Street into a cul-de-sac, preventing left-hand turns.If funding for the traffic light is approved, the installation will cost around $125,000.

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