5.7.15: Flashing beacons improve safety near three school crosswalks
Posted on 05/07/2015

Crossing the street where there are crosswalks but no light signals will be safer starting this spring near three downtown Puyallup schools thanks to the installation of bright rectangular rapid flashing lights.


The new beacons feature brilliant blasts of amber light that flash in a rapid rectangular sequence on both sides of the street when pedestrians press a button.


Similar flashing beacons are already installed at several other crosswalks in downtown Puyallup, including at the corner of Seventh Street Southwest and Pioneer Avenue near Puyallup High School.


The new flashing beacons and related crosswalk improvements began installation in February at marked crosswalks near:


• The corner of Pioneer Avenue and 15th Street Southwest near Aylen   Junior High School.


• The intersection of Fifth Street Southwest and Fifth Avenue Southwest near Meeker  Elementary School.  


• The corner of Fifth Street Northeast and Fourth Avenue Northeast near Stewart Elementary School.


The work commenced as a partnership between the school district and the City of Puyallup, which applied in 2012 for Safe Routes to Schools competitive grant program funding to improve crosswalk safety. The grant is administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation.


The city’s Public Works staff has been leading the effort in designing and constructing the engineering aspect of the project. The Puyallup Police Department will lead efforts regarding enforcement.


The school district is tasked with educating students and staff about the project, especially at the three schools closest to the new flashing beacon locations.


A one-day event to promote safe walking and biking to school is in the early planning stages for the three schools that will directly benefit from the grant project, said Brian Devereux, director of facilities planning.


Event dates and times will be announced on the school district website once they have been scheduled. Plans are to hold the event this fall, Devereux said.


“We think this will be a great asset to our students and our community,” Devereux said. “The lights will make it safer for both pedestrians and drivers.”


In general, rectangular rapid flashing beacons have proven to result in a more than 80 percent crosswalk compliance rate, according to information in the Washington State Department of Transportation grant application.


Other related work in the Safe Routes to Schools project includes upgrading existing curb ramps at the crosswalks outlined in the project to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.