After years of concern being voiced about pedestrian safety from the main UD Farm to the Webb Farm, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the University of Delaware, a solution is now on the horizon.
This summer, DelDOT will install an experimental traffic light, called a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK), at the intersection of Route 72 and Farm/Webb Lane.
Route 72 separates two areas of the farm used by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Robin Morgan, dean of the CANR, said students and faculty often have trouble crossing the intersection, which currently does not have traffic signals or a crosswalk.
“This project really belongs to our students,” Morgan said.
The project gathered momentum in 2008 when members of the Ag College Council presented a petition to DelDOT of concerned students and local citizens. They then worked with DelDOT to devise a plan that would make the intersection safer for pedestrians.
Luszcz, who worked with UD on the project, said the HAWK signal has been experimentally used across the country for 10 years, with impressive results. The device received approval for national use in January.
The new traffic light will be the first of its kind in Delaware. The device is activated when a pedestrian presses the button to cross. A flashing yellow light followed by a solid yellow light, signals drivers to slow down. A traditional red light stops traffic while the pedestrian crosses the street. The last step is a flashing red light, equivalent to a stop sign, which allows cars to move through the intersection if no pedestrians are coming. When not activated, the signal is dark and traffic can move freely.
“It gives you the solid red indication, but it’s less disruptive to traffic,” said Mark Luszcz, assistant chief traffic engineer for DelDOT.
He said they hope to break ground on the signal in July and be operational by the beginning of the fall semester. The signal will hang overhead on both sides of the intersection and be accompanied by a striped crosswalk and modified signs.
An event for students, faculty, and staff will be held at the start of the fall semester to demonstrate the new technology.
If the HAWK signal is successful, Luszcz said, DelDOT will consider using them in other locations throughout the state.
“We feel this is a good place for us to start with these devices,” he said.