Savings from Hamilton Beltline project to be used for special pedestrian crosswalks

Thanks to cost savings on construction for the first phase of Hamilton’s Beltline biking/walking path, the city will also add a HAWK (High intensity Activated crossWalK) crosswalk on a heavily-driven area of Eaton Avenue, near the Flub’s Dariette ice cream shop where the bike path eventually will cross.

The contract with Brumbaugh Construction came to $662,991, enough below the estimate for the approximately half-mile-long segment that recently had a 117-foot-long bridge installed over Two Mile Creek.

A very visible HAWK crosswalk, invented in Tucson, Ariz., is pedestrian-friendly, yet is better for vehicle flow than regular traffic signals.

Here’s how they work:

  • The high-visibility crossings have poles that extend above the street with lights that look like ordinary traffic signals. Unlike regular signals, though, they only are activated when a bicyclist or pedestrian activates them.
  • Once a pedestrian activates the signal, the same way they do so at a traffic light, they see a don’t walk hand. Once it gives a signal, they know it’s safe to cross the intersection, after making sure traffic stops.
  • The lights facing drivers at the crossing are dark until a pedestrian activates them. After that, the lights flash, before eventually glowing solid red. Two red signals overhead toggle back and forth in red, telling motorists that once the bikers or walkers have left the intersection, they are free to drive through. Drivers behind the first vehicle should check the intersection to make sure nobody has entered it before passing through themselves.

A less elaborate crossing signal will be added at Cleveland Avenue, where vehicle traffic is far less heavy than Eaton.

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The signals and their installation will cost about $67,000, and because the total cost with the signals included fell within the original cost estimate, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources agreed to pay 75 percent of that cost, as it was the other parts of the contract. Costs also were lowered because the city was able to reuse poles and city electrical workers are helping with installation.

“ODNR’s been a very good partner on this,” said Allen Messer, senior civil engineer for the city.

The path ultimately is to be a 2.96-mile asphalt strip that will extend in a large curve from the former Champion Paper mill and the Great Miami River to near Millville Avenue.

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