Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Update On Whitewater Traffic Light

This is the intersection where Mike was hit.
Royal Purple NewsPaper

Traffic signal design approved
By Michael Poe

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 05:03

UW-Whitewater students will soon be able to cross Main Street in a safer manner with the aid of a new device called the Navigator.

The Whitewater Common Council unanimously approved the design of new crosswalk signal March 16. The city has not set a date for installation for the Whiton and Main Street intersection.

The council had to choose between two actuators which were demonstrated at a public meeting Feb. 23.

The Navigator emits a constant beeping tone that allows visually impaired pedestrians to find the device. The device is activated by a sensitive push button.

“We have definitely done a lot of research and (the Navigator) is at the top of the market,” Director of Public Works Dean Fischer said.

The cost of the unit is $270 each with a total of eight being installed at each intersection. The Navigator device requires a controller at each traffic signal panel to operate, with an installation cost of $2,400.

UW-Whitewater informed the city that it will pay for similar equipment for both the Prairie andMain streets and and Prince and Main streets intersections.

The Navigator will tell the pedestrian it is time to cross with a voice system. When the crosswalk time is starting to count down, the Navigator will also countdown the amount of time left to cross the street. The city will eventually implement the Navigator at existing pedestrian signals throughout the city.

The other actuator, the Latching Bulldog, also has a sensitive push button, but would beep once rather than continuously and light up instead of a voice command. The cost of each device is $120.

City Manager Kevin Brunner said the university is very supportive of the higher-level system.

“I do like the idea of trying this system out for a few months and then retrofitting other intersections at a time in the future,” Brunner said. “[Chancellor Richard Telfer] is in favor of the Navigator because of the large number of disabled students that we have on campus and throughout the community.”

The University’s Center for Students with Disabilities was allowed to test the devices out. The Navigator was the overwhelming choice by the students.

The new pedestrian signals will be part of the federal project to add traffic lights and improve the intersection at a cost of $138,000. State and federal government will cover 90 percent of the project cost.

Debate regarding Main Street safety originated from an accident in late 2008 involving UW-Whitewater graduate Mike Chaloupkae.

Chaloupka, 23, was struck by a vehicle, while attempting to cross main Street. Chaloupka later died of injuries sustained from the accident.

In fall of 2009 a Fort Atkinson resident and sophomore Stephen Johnson also were struck while crossing Main street intersections.

The Whitewater Common Council voted in late 2008, as a result of Chaloupka’s death, to install traffic lights at the Main and Whiton streets intersection in summer 2010.

The trombone-arm pedestrian yield signs were installed at the two Main Street intersections in May 2008.

The Department of Transportation sent the city an agreement for the project covering 90 percent of traffic light installation. The agreement covers the costs of the project including engineering, equipment and installation costs.

The remaining 10 percent of the project will be funded by the city. Brunner said the intersection safety revamp will cost $12,000 to $15,000. The project carries an estimated total cost of $138, 400.

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