City council hears finding of study of temporary crosswalk

City council hears finding of study of temporary crosswalk

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Jonesboro City Council heard the results of a study at a temporary crosswalk on Johnson Avenue.

Cecelie Cochran, the Metropolitan Planning Organization director, presented the finding to the council.

She said the Northeast Arkansas Regional Transportation Planning Commission received federal funding to conduct the Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian or STEP study to look for countermeasures at mid-block crossings.

At Johnson Avenue and State Street, a temporary pedestrian crossing was put in place after the consultant found that it was a major traffic area for pedestrians.

After they installed the temporary crossing, they used traffic and crash data and pedestrian counts to get a full picture of the situation.

Consultants then came in and conducted behavioral observations and other codes to see what would be the best permanent option for that area.

“We found over the study, more than 85% of pedestrians actually used it, whether or not they activate the lights, the utilized the crosswalk itself being there,” Cochran said.

The Jonesboro Engineering Department also installed a camera at the crosswalk so they could see how effective the crosswalk was.

She said the most foot traffic was seen between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

After doing surveillance and talking to the engineering department, the consultants identified some critical issues at the crossing. Some of those things included drivers going at excessive speeds, not yielding for pedestrians, and crashes.

“When we did have crashes occurring in the area, when we would pull the footage, a lot of times what you would see where vehicles basically trying to travel around the citizens, because they didn’t want to stop.”

So one of the main recommendations the consultants had was immediate speed reduction.

They recommended using any means like raised medians, landscaping, and monitoring equipment to get people to slow down.

The consultants said the advanced warning signs put up did not appear to get people to slow down.

The consultants said that the city should try first find a way to get traffic to slow down like placing a police officer at random times, even if it is for an hour, to try and mitigate that problem, before putting up a traffic signal for the pedestrian or a pedestrian hybrid beacon.

“The consultants pretty much drove home to me that no matter what you put out there if you don’t address the aggressive driver behavior, no matter what you put out there, you’re going to have problems. So it will be a safety conflict if motorists and the pedestrians don’t learn how to coexist.”

They also wanted to see what the people wanted to see happen in the area.

The consultants designed a website since public meetings could not be held due to COVID-19 so the public could input their opinions.

The majority said either a traffic signal or a pedestrian hybrid beacon should be placed there with 47% of participants going for the beacon because it was more than they had there before.

Cochran said the beacon would flash red when someone was in the crosswalk instead of yellow.

“It would bring it [traffic] almost to a stop, but it would only flash red when activated by a pedestrian.”

Another issue brought up was lighting in the area. Cochran said it is dark there at nighttime and people have said they have almost hit people in the crosswalk.

Mayor Harold Perrin, along with Police Chief Rick Elliott and council members said they wanted to look at the lighting in the area in the short term to see what can be done about that issue.

Cochran said talks would still continue between the city, police, and ARDOT to find a permanent solution at that crossing.

To look at the findings of the study, click here.

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