New HAWK signal working along 3300 South
Apr 06, 2020 04:02PM
By Bill Hardesty
A resident of the 1000 West Homeless Resource Center takes advantage of the new HAWK signal along 3300 South at 1000 West. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
If anyone says to you that government works slowly, just point out the new HAWK pedestrian signal at 1000 West and 3300 South. From study to reality, it was about three months.
Pedestrian safety top priority
Almost starting with the November opening of the 1000 West Homeless Resource Center (HRC), fatalities started to occur along 3300 South.
The first occurred when an apparently homeless man was killed when he was struck by a vehicle at 900 West. The next happened on Christmas night, when Randall Steward, who was in wheelchair in the roadway, was struck around 3400 South. He later died of his injuries.
Duane Nebeker was killed walking across 3300 South near 1000 West. Earlier in the day, a 29-year-old man was struck on 3300 South at 200 West, resulting in injuries.
Gary Keller, the South Salt Lake Police Department spokesperson, told the Deseret News that all the men who were killed are believed to have been homeless.
In the same article, Councilmember Corey Thomas, District 2, said, “It breaks my heart that our city is going through this tragic time. It’s tragic for all involved — the individuals that have passed away, their families, and also the individuals in the cars. It’s extremely traumatic.”
Thomas has made pedestrian safety a key focus of her term in office. She along with others have held honk and wave events around the city to point out the need for better pedestrian safety.
Thomas, along with Shane Siwik, District 5, went to work and met with UDOT in January to find a solution.
During the March 11 city council meeting, Siwik and Thomas praised UDOT and city officials for getting the signal installed so fast.
A HAWK signal, officially known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, gets its name from the term High Intensity Activated Crosswalk.
For a pedestrian, it works like other signals. They are activated by pressing a button. In the case of the 1000 West HAWK signal, there are 7 seconds between pushing the button and seeing the walk signal, unless the radar overrules (more on that later).
For drivers, it is very different. When the walk sign is given, solid red lights are displayed. After some time, the lights start to blink red which means that drivers can proceed if the path is clear.
“A HAWK is a nice mixture of mobility and safety. It commands the respect of vehicles,” said Mark Taylor, UDOT’s traffic signal operations engineer.
A study by the Federal Highway Safety Administration showed there was a 69% reduction in pedestrian crashes when a HAWK signal was used.
In the case of the 1000 West HAWK signal, pedestrians are given a total of 33 seconds to walk across the six-lane highway. As mention earlier, they have 7 seconds to prepare to walk across. They have a 23-second countdown clock and a 3-second buffer.
“It is working,” an HRC resident said as they completed their crossing.
In addition to the HAWK signal, additional no right turn lights are on 1000 West on the south and at the parking lot exit on the north. They are activated when the HAWK signal is showing solid red.
“The completion of this HAWK pedestrian crossing will enhance the walkability and access to the 1000 West Men's Homeless Resource Center. South Salt Lake is grateful for the expedited installation of this necessary improvement. I would encourage pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to continue to use caution and avoid all distractions when traveling on roadways,” South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood said.
UTA also moved their bus stops to 1000 West to match the placement of the signal. This is to eliminate jaywalking from the bus stop.
On almost all UDOT traffic signals, there is a radar device. When someone activates a pedestrian signal, the radar, among other actions, calculates the speed and stopping distance of approaching vehicles. If the built-in artificial intelligence determines the vehicle is in what is called “the decision zone” it will delay starting the cycle until the vehicle clears the intersection. This is why when you press a crossing button, you might wait longer than other times.