WOODBURY – Drivers on Main St. may do a double take when they see pedestrians crossing the street as they wave safety-orange flags. But that’s exactly what the Town of Woodbury hoped drivers will do.
The Department of Public Works installed a set of crosswalk flags at the corner of Main St. and Mountain Rd. on Thursday. Today, they installed a second set at the corner of Main St. and Church St.
The intent is to have pedestrians use the flags as they cross the street at those crosswalks. The pedestrian is supposed to pick up the flag at when they enter the crosswalk, and then put it in the container at the other side of the street.
Selectman Barbara Perkinson saw the flags in action while on vacation in Wakefield, RI this summer, and presented the idea at the September Board of Selectmen meeting. Perkinson felt it was worth a try – especially as the town waits approval from the state to install a flashing-light safety system at the Mountain Rd. intersection, where two women were hit by a car last year and were seriously injured.
Each crosswalk includes two sign posts, signage, buckets, and several flags. Public Works director Rich Lamothe said the cost is about $300 for the two sets. Lamothe said that cost is extremely low compared to the $8,500 self-contained electrical unit the town is waiting for state approval on to install.
“People aren’t supposed to be on their phones while they drive, but in reality, they do text and drive,” Lamothe said. “If this can help prevent just one accident, then it will be worth the investment.”
Both sets of crosswalk flags are portable, and will be until the town determines the feasibility of the project. Instead of being put into the ground, the posts are mounted in 5-gallon buckets of concrete.
Perkinson felt the set at Church Street makes sense because there are a lot of attendees of United Methodist Church who cross the street from the C.L. Adams parking lot.
Once the self-contained electrical unit is installed at the corner of Mountain Rd., Perkinson said she would like to see that set moved to the corner of Judson St., near the United States Post Office. Perkinson said there are a lot of Woodbury Middle School students who cross that intersection when they leave school in the afternoon and head to the Woodbury Public Library.
Could the safety test lead to theft and vandalism? Absolutely, Lamothe said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if pedestrians walk off with the flags, which cost $7 each. Lamothe said he is going to recommend that the flags are removed a few days before Halloween, in preparation for Mischief Night.
In Connecticut, the City of Bridgeport piloted a crosswalk flags program in 2014. It’s popular in cities like Salt Lake City, but in Seattle, it was determined that its crosswalk flags test did show it hindered or improved pedestrian safety.
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