Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, October 8, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Blaring beeps from pedestrian push buttons; side-street driver requests additional HAWK pedestrian crosswalk beacons for all travel directions; road to nowhere on west side of Capitol Boulevard at Yale Street.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: A new pedestrian crossing signal was added to my neighborhood. It beeps incessantly and can be heard within a half-block radius. I was told by a worker that the audible signal is part of a new Americans with Disabilities Act rule, so that people with visual impairments can find the push button. I'm all for ADA, but it seems unfair that my neighbors and I now have a constant beeping noise that we can hear whenever we are in our yards. Where is the fairness in that?

Lisa

Road Wizard:

Many people with visual impairments rely on the pedestrian push button locator beeps, but the sound isn't intended to be annoying backyard background noise.

Setting the ideal volume can be difficult. The sound level is also able to automatically get louder when vehicle noises peak, and that may need some fine-turning. ACHD is happy to work the controls as needed -- residents are encouraged to contact the agency to request volume adjustments.

Dear Road Wizard: A HAWK pedestrian crossing was installed on the corner of Lake Hazel Road and Valley Heights Drive. I was behind a driver who intended to turn left from Valley Heights to Lake Hazel. Apparently, the HAWK was activated by a pedestrian who crossed, but then a bicyclist sped through the signal area (with the lights still flashing), but the flashing lights aren't visible to the cross traffic on Valley Heights, resulting in a near miss for the bicyclist. Is there a way Valley Heights drivers can view the activated lights on Lake Hazel? This is a very dangerous situation!

CWS

Road Wizard:

The HAWK provides an enhanced pedestrian crossing on Lake Hazel and stops Lake Hazel drivers if a pedestrian pushes the walk button.

The location was selected because Lake Hazel doesn't have a stop sign at the intersection, and it's a crossing point for children going to and from school.

Valley Heights has a stop sign, and HAWK or no HAWK, drivers are required to stop at the stop sign and yield to pedestrians using the crosswalk on Lake Hazel.

Installing some sort of "crossing is activated" notice for side streets may reduce the attention paid to actual roadway conditions. And it wouldn't change what drivers are already obliged to do. It sounds like the bicyclist's behavior is what needed some tweaking.

Dear Road Wizard: I enjoy your column and have long wanted to ask you this question. On the west side of Capitol Boulevard and the intersection with Yale Street is a road to nowhere that runs parallel to Capitol but is terminated just short of Yale. Is that road a road or perhaps a sidewalk?

Brice

Road Wizard:

This stretch of pavement is an oddity for sure. It can't be driven on because the Marriott TownePlace Suites sign blocks the way.
 
It was never a public road, but it once had an important function. There used to be an office building on the corner of Capitol and Yale before the Marriott came along. The "road to nowhere" was actually a secondary access to the offices, likely installed for emergency responders. Access to the site was limited at the time because the construction of Lusk Street came at a later date.
 
By the time the Marriott went in, the extra access wasn't needed. The remaining pavement is in ACHD's right-of-way and was left in place.

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