City explores crosswalk upgrades
May 12—HIGH POINT — City Council members say they want to see new measures to improve pedestrian safety on N. Main Street through Uptowne High Point.
The possible changes include pedestrian-activated red lights that would require vehicles to stop at the mid-block crosswalk near Brown Truck Brewery. Temporary on-street parking between Lexington and Farris avenues is also under consideration.
The Prosperity and Livability Committee opted to pursue these options instead of additional signage, flashers and lighting at the crosswalk that were recommended by city staff.
"I don't think any of those solutions are going to work," said Councilman and committee Chairman Wesley Hudson. "We could put 500 yellow lights at the Brown Truck crossing. Cars don't stop for yellow lights. I think we need a full-stop red light there."
But the N.C. Department of Transportation, which controls Main Street, does not like these types of pedestrian-activated devices at crosswalks, said city Transportation Director Greg Venable.
"If you're going to put something in where you stop traffic, they would rather it be a full signal," he said. "With driver behavior, I think some cars are still going to run that, if they see it's not a full signal."
He said there's been one reported case of a vehicle striking a pedestrian at the crosswalk, which was enhanced with push-button activated flashing beacons and other features a few years ago.
Transportation staff recommended the additional upgrades as the first stage of a larger study of the corridor that will recommend pedestrian safety and streetscape improvements, as well as speed-reduction strategies, along N. Main Street between Lexington and Church avenues.
Venable estimated it would cost around $45,000 to implement the interim measures, which could also include a concrete median pedestrian refuge island.
"I think it's going to be a waste of money," Hudson said. "My thought is, if we do these, we're still going to be coming back here in six months saying, 'It doesn't work.'"
Instead of pursuing these, staff will research the feasibility of red-light signals at the crosswalk and potential temporary lane closures along N. Main Street as a way to test on-street parking at certain times or events.
"A crosswalk is not going to be enough. I think we're going to have to do some on-street parking," said Councilwoman Monica Peters.
Venable said the corridor study will look at how the 20,000 vehicles per day that use Main Street might be impacted if lanes were reduced to accommodate parking.
"Main Street is the most direct point north to south through town. People are going to use that. Truckers are going to use that. It's hard to stop them from doing that," he said.