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New crosswalk signals improve safety

Pedestrians have the right-of-way when crossing roads in designated crosswalks, but those crossing need to be sure drivers see them before stepping into the street. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Pedestrians have the right-of-way when crossing roads in designated crosswalks, but those crossing need to be sure drivers see them before stepping into the street. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Maj. Gen. Loren Reno, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander, talks about the new crossing signals with Rick Stuart, American Federation of Government Employees Local 916 second vice president. General Reno pushed the walk button Nov. 8 and joined dozens of OC-ALC employees as they crossed the street to head home. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Maj. Gen. Loren Reno, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander, talks about the new crossing signals with Rick Stuart, American Federation of Government Employees Local 916 second vice president. General Reno pushed the walk button Nov. 8 and joined dozens of OC-ALC employees as they crossed the street to head home. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Commander Maj. Gen. Loren Reno officially activated the new crosswalk signal lights Nov. 8 at the north end of Bldg. 300l.
   General Reno pushed the walk button and crossed the street with dozens of OC-ALC employees who were headed home during the 3:30 p.m. rush-hour traffic.
   The four solar-powered pedestrian crossing signal lights cover an 80-yard area on Industrial Boulevard, also called Entrance Road C.
   "I think the lights are very helpful," General Reno said. "It will alert drivers in both directions that there is someone in the crosswalk whether you can see them or not and that translates to safety for our people." 
   Rick Stuart, American Federation of Government Employees Local 916 second vice president, said since the lights became operational, he has noticed that pedestrians are funneling to the crosswalk.
   "The jaywalking down at the corner has stopped and people are using these (crosswalks). I think they have made a difference," Mr. Stuart said.
   The area is dangerous for both pedestrians and drivers. Traffic traveling westbound on Industrial Boulevard near Bldg. 3001 is coming around a curve as they approach the crosswalk and pedestrians tend to cross the street anywhere they want, he said.
   Mark Harbaugh, 72nd Air Base Wing civil engineer, said there has been some confusion about the purpose and operation of the lights.
   "The new flashing yellow crosswalk lights are designed to raise awareness of pedestrians at the crosswalk," Mr. Harbaugh said.
   It's not a walk/don't walk operation, he said. There is no red light for which drivers are required to stop and pedestrians must still exercise caution and yield to vehicles that fail to stop, the civil engineer said.
   Union officials have been concerned about the area for a couple of years, but the project was expedited with the arrival of Gen. Reno and his commitment to people issues, Mr. Stuart said.
   Previously, the union discussed having a tunnel or overhead passing across this boulevard. Although neither pedestrians nor drivers would be impeded, the ideas were not cost effective.
   The project was researched in depth and the location presented many challenges for power access. Electrical planner Dustin Hamer conducted some market research and found that solar-powered, wireless signals were the best option.
   "The solar technology provides ease of installation and minimum routine maintenance," Mr. Hamer said. "It is a positive solution for cost and minimizes the impact on the environment."
   The signal lights costs about $3,500 each and the yellow signal lights will flash for 15 seconds when the walk button is pushed.