Members of the public and the city's safety committee tackled the question of whether students will use a specialized traffic signal at the new Dover High School.
Members of a Dover city committee discovered it’s not so much a question about whether a specialized type of traffic light is needed at the new Dover High School, it’s more about whether students will use it.
A hearing was held before the Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee Wednesday night to give committee members and the public an update about how the new type of traffic signal will work.
Dubbed the High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk Signal, or HAWK, the light is a manual signal used when a pedestrian wants to cross a roadway, in this case, Route 8, said DelDOT Chief Traffic Engineer Mark Luszcz.
The signal will be placed at the intersection with Heatherfield Way, regardless of whether or not a proposed eastern entrance to the school campus is built, Luszcz said.
A traffic light is needed so the estimated 100 students living in the Cranberry Run and Heatherfield developments will be able to safely cross the busy east-west corridor into the city of Dover.
DelDOT decided to install the HAWK because Route 8 does not meet the requirements for a standard red light traffic signal.
Pedestrians will push a button that will first light up a flashing yellow caution signal that turns solid yellow and then switches to red, stopping traffic. A signal will give the pedestrian a countdown showing how long he or she has to get across the road before traffic resumes, Luszcz said.
Heatherfield resident Karen Nickerson noted the entrance to Cranberry Run is almost directly in front of the school, but the HAWK signal is several hundred feet to the east. She doubted students would use the signal when they could just run across the 55-foot-wide roadway.
“They’re not going to do that,” she said. “They won’t use the signal.”
Luszcz acknowledged that possibility.
“I can’t make them use it,” he said. “All I can say is that you shouldn’t cross Route 8 without a traffic signal.”
Students also would not use the west signal because there are no crosswalks there or sidewalks along Route 8 to direct pedestrians to the signal, Luszcz said.
Regarding the east entrance itself, city planning director Ann Marie Townshend told the committee that despite budget problems, the Capital School District intends to build the roadway, although the design of the intersection might be changed to save money.
Townshend added her office considers the eastern roadway vital to bus and emergency vehicle traffic.
After the meeting, Nickerson said she still had safety concerns.
“I’m worried about the kids walking from Heatherfield and Cranberry Run,” she said. “I don’t think they’ll walk down to the light. I think they’ll still run across Route 8.”
For more information about the HAWK traffic signal, go to http://tinyurl.com/hawklight.