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Story - News

Feb 13, 2012 6:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

'Smart' Crosswalks Headed To East Hampton's Main Street

Feb 14, 2012 1:41 PM

“Smart” illuminated crosswalks are on the horizon for East Hampton Village, which hopes to have two in place by Memorial Day weekend. They will be the first to be installed on Long Island by the New York State Department of Transportation, although the Village of Farmingville used a DOT grant to have one installed—the first on a public road in the state—five years ago.

In East Hampton Village, the crosswalks will both go on Main Street, one at its intersection with Huntting Lane and the other at the Circle. Pedestrians will be able to push a button before entering the crosswalk, thereby activating amber lights embedded in the street. The lights, which face out toward traffic from each side of the crosswalk, flash for a period of time to alert drivers to pedestrians.

The East Hampton Village Board on January 20 voted to approve an agreement with the DOT, which will install the systems at an anticipated cost of $125,000, according to Eileen Peters, the regional public information officer for the agency. They have already been ordered from LightGuard Systems in Santa Rosa, California, according to Sher Paz, a sales manager there.

Ms. Peters said the installation project will include replacing sidewalk ramps and “pole foundation work” as well installing the lights themselves. “Once all materials are received, actual construction should take several weeks to complete, weather permitting,” she said in an email. Whether the work can be finished before summer will depend on several factors, among them whether other projects of higher priority arise for the DOT.

East Hampton Village will cover the cost of electricity and maintaining the systems. “Considering how long it took them to agree,” Village Board Member Barbara Borsack said of the DOT at the January 20 meeting, “I would hate to have them do the maintenance.”

“The village wants to be at the cutting edge—pre-emptive and proactive,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said.

The crosswalk lights “are visible to the motorist but not the pedestrian,” according to the company’s website, which goes on to explain that “the intent of this Smart Crosswalk system feature is to remove a ‘false sense of security’ on the part of the pedestrian when crossing.”

Although the DOT did not install them, similar crosswalk systems are already in place on Hospital Road in East Patchogue and elsewhere in New York, according to Ms. Peters. Studies in other locations showed that when the lights were installed at crosswalks where there was no traffic signal there was an improvement in drivers’ awareness of crosswalks that benefited pedestrians, she said.

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