SHA continuing pedestrian improvements despite conditions

SHA continuing pedestrian improvements despite conditions

(March 7, 2014) The State Highway Administration is still hoping to have a full slate of safety improvements in the resort done before Memorial Day, despite some delays due to this year’s unusually high snowfall.

“This weather has not been conducive to anything, but we are still on schedule,” said SHA representative Dave Buck this week. “This extreme cold has been difficult.”

As many motorists have noticed, the SHA has already begun the installation of a pedestrian-only intersection just north of 54th Street.

“By the end of next week we’ll have all of the underground work done, which is basically all the foundation and conduits,” Buck said. “The pole itself had to be special ordered, and we’re expecting that in by the end of next week as well.”

Identical to the signal just north of 49th Street, the new intersection will not just be a crosswalk, but will have overhead traffic signal that will stop traffic on Coastal Highway, allowing pedestrians to cross east-west just as if they were vehicles at a regular intersection.

Following the high number of pedestrian collisions in the summer of 2012, the SHA conducted a traffic study along what it identified as the resort’s most dangerous corridor, from the Convention Center to the Route 90 Bridge.

The study noted particular risk between 52nd and 56th Streets, the longest stretch in the resort without a traffic signal. Further, Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grille, a summertime hotspot, is located directly in the middle at 54th Street.

“The light will activate only when someone hits a button, either on the Macky’s side or on the ocean side,” Buck said. “We’re hoping to have it turned on and functional by the end of April.”

The SHA has also been removing the depressed areas of median and wooden bollards found at certain points along Costal Highway. When originally designed, the depressions were intended as crossing points for beach equipment-laden pedestrians, with the wood-covered concrete posts as protection.

With the massive increase of traffic in past decades, however, they are now seen as hazardous and encouraging unsafe pedestrian behavior.

Further, the SHA plans to construct “bump-outs” along part of the state-owned portion of Baltimore Avenue, roughly between 9th and 15th Streets. These essentially extend the sidewalk out past the parking lane and into the crosswalk, making pedestrians more noticeable to motorists without them having to step out into the roadway.

“They will not require any reduction of street parking,” Buck said. “It’s really more of a visual thing for the motorists.”

Buck also noted that the state hopes to have the traffic signals between 41st and 85th Streets back onto the larger traffic control system by mid-April. The signals in the area where Delmarva Power is currently replacing utility poles were disconnected for the work.

“Right now, those signals are on what we call ‘time of day’ mode,” Buck said. “They’re not responding to traffic, they’re just on a timer. If someone comes up on the side street, it doesn’t recognize the vehicle is there because it’s not hooked into the system.”

“We have a contractor scheduled to come in who will re-connect that whole stretch, and make sure the traffic pattern is back in place,” Buck said.

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