The crossing of 11th Avenue in Nampa (part of Interstate 84-Business) became much safer for pedestrians this week.
Pedestrian safety proponents throughout the Valley joined the city of Nampa in celebrating the opening of an innovative new crosswalk. The Wednesday (Aug. 20) ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at Paul’s Market near the site.
The lighted crosswalk has long been anticipated by northside residents wanting to safely cross 11th Avenue North. The new crosswalk has lights embedded in the pavement and flashing lights overhead.
“This is a very exciting day,” said Nampa public information officer Sharla Arledge. “This new, state-of-the-art crosswalk provides safer passage for people who live in the area and walk to get their groceries and do other shopping.”
Officials said pedestrians have been pushing the button to activate the lighted crosswalk and running straight across both sides of the street. Instead, pedestrians are supposed to activate the crosswalk on one side of the street for the first two lanes of traffic, cross to a concrete traffic island in the middle of the street, and then push another button to activate lights governing the other two lanes of traffic.
The crosswalk is in two sections that don't span the street at the same place.
The city literally put the crosswalk project on a fast track after several pedestrians in a short time period were hit by vehicles while trying to cross the street.
Most recently, a minivan struck and killed 85-year-old Nampa resident Maria Alvarez in March when she attempted to cross the five-lane thoroughfare. Alvarez had tried to walk across the street from the Paul's Market grocery store to her home nearby. In 2007, a man was severely injured while crossing the street.
Nine people in the past decade have been injured in the old crosswalk.
The city spent $55,669 for new streetlights to better illuminate the roadway and $115,112 for the new crosswalk.
“Flashing lights don’t take the place of caution,” Arledge said. “Pedestrians need to watch for cars and make sure oncoming vehicles are stopping before stepping into the road. Drivers also need to be vigilant in watching for pedestrians.”
It took crews only about five weeks to complete the crosswalk construction. The ribbon-cutting originally was scheduled to take place about two weeks earlier, but the software controlling the signal timing was not working properly.
The project took just nine months from conception to completion. Arledge said similar projects usually take about a year and a half to complete.