Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Traffic Light Delay-Intersection Where Mike Was Hit

Whiton, Main Street traffic light project delayed until fall
By Kelsey Welke– March 8, 2011
Posted in: News
The traffic light project that has been planned for years at the intersection of Whiton and Main Streets has been delayed due to monetary reasons.

Public Works Director Dean Fischer said the project was originally going to be a city-funded project until the Highway Safety Approval Grant was found. Fischer then applied for and received the grant.

A car passes over the crosswalk at the intersection of Whiton and Main Streets. The project to install a traffic light at the intersection was delayed until next fall. Photo by Kelsey Welke.

Because the project is now funded by federal money, the project was postponed until September. It was originally planned to start after school let out in May.

The project is estimated at $171,750, of which 80 percent will be paid for by the grant and the rest by the city.

Several pedestrians have been hit on Main Street, including graduate student Mike Chaloupka in 2008 and most recently senior Chris O’Neil.

Chaloupka was struck by a car in his wheelchair while crossing at the intersection. He died later due to accident-related injuries.

O’Neil was hit March 1 while crossing at the same intersection.

“I saw that the car in the far lane was going to hit me so I jumped up and away from the car and then came down on the front of the hood,” O’Neil said. “The driver of the car got out and seemed genuinely sorry … for not stopping fast enough. But since I wasn’t hurt, I told him not to worry about it.”

Fischer said the issue at that intersection is getting pedestrians to cross safely.

“The advantage of putting in stop-and-go lights over the existing lights is that it will be a controlled intersection for everybody – pedestrians and vehicle traffic,” Fischer said.

The new light will also have “The Navigator” technology installed. “The Navigator” emits a short, recorded message along with beeping sounds to allow visually-impaired persons to know when it is safe to cross the street.

“The Navigator” was recently installed at the intersections of Prince and Main Streets, and Prairie and Main Streets.

The disadvantage of installing the lights at the intersection of Whiton and Main streets is that the lights will take away from the historical look of the gateway in front of the Alumni Center and Hyer Hall, Fischer said.

The poles that hold the traffic lights will be a dark color, similar to other traffic lights in the city. These will not be as obvious as the aluminum poles that hold the current safety lights at the intersection. Therefore, some of the historical look of the gateway will be preserved, Fischer said.