Intersection where man and dog were killed getting a specialized crosswalk

April 13, 2019

A dangerous crosswalk in Lake Havasu City moved one step closer to becoming safer after City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to install a specialized type of crosswalk beacon.

Project Manager Jeffrey Herb gave a brief video presentation of how the High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) pedestrian crossing beacon would work.

“The speed limit there is 35 miles per hour, but we believe it’s exceeded there often,” Herb said. “The reason we chose this intersection for this work was because of the fatality that occurred there and the number of accidents that resulted in incapacitating injuries.”

In November 2015, a man and his dog were killed while in the crosswalk at the intersection of Acoma Boulevard and North Pima Drive.

The other issue with the intersection that council members and Herb spoke about is the crest in the hill that makes visibility a factor.

Council member Donna McCoy said it was a great idea.

“You have a lot of kids crossing there going to school, so I applaud this,” McCoy said.

Council member Gordon Groat echoed her sentiments, saying “With two schools in that area, that intersection is very busy.”

Smoketree Elementary School and Guiding Light Christian Educational Center are both less than two blocks from the intersection.

Mayor Cal Sheehy said discussions between the city and the school district were important in developing the improved system.

One City resident, Don Fields, provided the only public comment and a moment of levity at Tuesday’s entire meeting when he asked if the crosswalk light could be controlled as to the duration of time.

“There are kids, particularly boys, who may enjoy hitting the button several times to keep the lights activated,” Fields said.

Herb assured him that is something that could be controlled.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the HAWK crosswalk was developed by the City of Tucson in the late 1990s to assist in pedestrian crossings, especially at major arterials with minor street intersections.

Previous research found driver yielding percentages above 95% for the HAWK treatment, even on major streets with multiple lanes or higher speeds.

According to Herb, the HAWK crosswalk’s driver compliance has risen to 97%, and it has reduced vehicle crashes involving pedestrians by 70% where it is used.

Also part of the project, which is scheduled for construction in spring 2020, corners of the intersection would also be reconstructed with ramps to bring the intersection up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The crosswalk beacon would provide safe passage for pedestrians as they cross the intersection, as it would stop traffic while pedestrians remain in the crosswalk.

According to Project Manager Jeffrey Herb, these improvements were identified in the Strategic Transportation Safety Plan by the Lake Havasu Metropolitan Planning Organization.

According to Herb, the project would be fully funded by no more than $460,000 in Arizona Highway Safety Improvement Program grant funding, with no cost to the city. Lake Havasu City would still be responsible for any costs exceeding the budgeted amount.