Nearly $200,000 was spent on two new traffic lights to make life easier for Penticton’s pedestrians.
Each of the new traffic lights flashes green until activated by a walker to bring traffic to a halt and allow safe passage across its intersection.
The new signal at Main Street and Okanagan Avenue went live last week and came with a $94,500 price tag, according to Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s director of operations.
He said city council’s transportation advisory committee recommended the new light because the nearest signalized crossings on Main Streets are a few blocks in either direction at Warren Avenue and Industrial Avenue.
“If somebody wanted to cross a busy four-lane road safely, there was nowhere to do that other than (by walking) a considerable distance.”
The other new light, at the intersection of Johnson Road and Middle Bench Road, replaced a pedestrian-activated amber crosswalk light, and was switched on earlier this fall at a cost to taxpayers of $93,000, Moroziuk said.
He explained that the city first studied traffic at that intersection due to concerns raised by the Uplands Elementary School community, and determined the crossing was “right at the borderline of almost needing a signal,” according to standards set by the Transportation Association of Canada.
“We just said, ‘OK, we know it’s coming, so let’s get it upgraded and it’s done,” Moroziuk said.
One of Kim MacDonald’s sons attends Uplands Elementary and she said Friday while walking him home that the amber light in place at the intersection previously didn’t always bring traffic to a stop.
She hopes the new light will give parents the confidence they need to send their kids to class on foot.
“I’d like more kids to be walking to school, so anything that makes it safer for them” is good, MacDonald said.
Moroziuk said the city analyzes its crosswalks from time to time during periodic transportation studies, but will also do so based on complaints or information it receives from ICBC.
According to an online ICBC database, there was one accident involving a pedestrian at each of the newly-upgraded intersections between 2007 and 2011.
The city expects to receive retroactive grant money totalling about $20,000 to offset the cost of the new lights, which were included in the 2012 budget, Moroziuk said.
Traffic safety upgrades in the works for next year, he added, include more chirping crosswalk signals for sight-impaired pedestrians and the installation of uninterruptible power supplies at some stop stop lights to keep them on during power outages.