Santa Paula Times

City to study newer technology to light city crosswalks

October 11, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

The city’s dozen lighted crosswalks could be replaced after the City Council learned that the existing technology making motorists more aware of pedestrians is becoming obsolete.

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez gave an oral report to the council on the issue at the October 7 meeting.

The city has depended on crosswalks outlined with flashing lights embedded in the street that pedestrians activate to let motorists know they are crossing the street. 

“It was a great idea for the community to provide a safer crosswalk,” as well as education about pedestrian safety.

The existing crosswalks have been subject to burned out bulbs and system failures as well as electrical shorting caused by rain.

Yanez said the three newest crosswalks are “Very high maintenance” are now inoperable and they are the most troublesome as the manufacturer is no longer in business; the remaining nine are aging and repair parts are becoming harder to find. The existing crosswalks often require street closure for repair work.

“It’s so funny, these high devices are like Christmas lights.... one bulb goes out they all go out,” said Yanez. 

Other cities having the same challenges with lighted crosswalks and have been looking at crossing beacons that are hung on poles, easy too see from a distance and require less maintenance.

Said Yanez, “They’re along the side of the street, not in the street and you can program it to beep faster, slower however you want the light to flash.”

When a pedestrian pushes the button on one side of the street to activate the beacons, they both flash, a feature that Yanez said is very visible and effective in high traffic areas. In addition, the beacons also have lights in the top portion of the sign where pedestrian figures are shown and are solar powered.

There is about $100,000 that Yanez said could be used to replace the in the street crosswalk systems with the flashing beacon lights.

“Right now I really want to move forward,” and replace the existing crosswalk systems at Santa Paula and 5th streets, Palm Avenue and Ventura Street and Oak and Ventura streets with the new technology as Yanez said, “We’re struggling to find parts.... “ 

The others, he added, could be replaced in stages.

“This has been something that the council was a frontrunner; we were one of the first or second in the county,” to install lighted crosswalks.

The new technology is a “safe alternative,” but Yanez said, “important education that using a crosswalk does not mean safe,” would be continued.

Councilman Bob Gonzales noted that the city would “maximize our money,” if the school district helped in the funding of crosswalks that service students.

Yanez said in the past such an approach had been rebuffed.

“Now, with half not working my first concern is liability,” said Councilman Jim Tovias who urged the beacon lights be studied as, “I would hate the city to be a part of a lawsuit because a device is not working.”

Yanez will also study what other cities are using before reporting back to the council.