PIQUA — A new-generation traffic signal will be making its debut in Piqua in coming days and weeks. Its purpose is to make crossing the street easier — and safer — for pedestrians.
Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon signals will be installed at selected crossings along the College Street “corridor,” according to City Engineer Amy Havenar.
“We received some grant money,” said Havenar. “And as part of that, we are removing some traffic signals down the College Street corridor. In place of those, there will be two-way stops. In place of those, we need to have an alternative for students and pedestrians. So, we are putting in Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons.”
The new RRFB signals are designed to be bright, eye-catching, devices that flash brilliant yellow strobes to attract the attention of motorists, letting them know that someone is crossing the street in front of them.
Deputy Chief Marty Grove of the Piqua Police Department described the strobes as “super-bright, and similar to the “wig-wag” lights on emergency vehicles.
The lights will be mounted on poles on both sides of the roadway. The poles, with other yellow pedestrian crosswalk signage attached, will be 14 feet high.
The devices are set to allow for a safe crossing time, even for elderly pedestrians. “And once the intersection is clear, motorists can proceed,” Grove said.
Havenar said that she believes the majority of the motoring public in Piqua has probably not seen one of these devices in operation and wants to get the word out to be sure that everyone understands the way they operate.
The new devices will be found at locations along College Street and on Broadway. Another, which has already been installed, is on North County Road 25-A at Tomahawk Trail.
Grove said that one of the main reasons for the new solar-powered devices is to provide safe crossings for students at both Piqua Catholic and Piqua City schools.
A press release from the city states, “The new flashing beacons are helping to improve crosswalk safety at numerous locations throughout the state. Drivers and pedestrians, however, need to continue to use caution and keep a close watch out for each other. Successful operation of the crossing signal requires cooperation and understanding by both pedestrian and drivers of motorized vehicles.”
The Piqua Police Department will help in monitoring pedestrian safety at the crosswalks and help to remind pedestrians and motorists to pay extra attention in the area.
In coming weeks, contractors will “bag” existing traffic signals at selected intersections. By state law, the signals must remain in place and covered for a period of time, even though new signals are in place and operating.
The project is part of what city officials stress is a long-term commitment to the Safe Routes to School program.
Havenar and Grove both stressed that even when the new signals are up and operating, pedestrians and motorists still need to use caution and common sense as they travel the streets.
“Look both ways,” said Grove. “If they see somebody coming and they are not sure they are going to stop, stay where you’re at.”
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335