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Flashing lights and talking traffic signals; Roanoke upgrades crosswalks

City upgrading 20 intersections, the bulk of which are downtown

Roanoke creating safety upgrades for pedestrians in the downtown area
Roanoke creating safety upgrades for pedestrians in the downtown area

ROANOKE, VA. – The city of Roanoke is making upgrades for the growing number of people choosing to leave the car behind and walk around town. It’s an effort to make things safer for everyone involved.

The nuts and bolts are coming together one piece at a time and while it may not look like much, it’s a big step forward for the city of Roanoke. Ian Coffey is a city traffic engineer and oversees the project.

“If the environment is more inviting to be a pedestrian, I think you’re going to see more people choosing that route,” Coffey said. “What we’re doing right now is improving specifically 20 intersections through the pedestrian safety action plan, PSAP for short.”

In practice, that looks like flashing signs and audible crosswalk alerts. Across downtown and other parts of the city, you’ll now be able to push a button activating flashing lights at midblock crossings. And at street corners, crosswalk signals will now talk to you telling you when, and what street the crosswalk sign is on for.

It helps let both disabled and abled people alike know when and where to cross.

“We want to bring awareness to drivers that there’s pedestrians that are trying to get across the street and through that to make it safer to pedestrians to do so,” Coffey said.

As more people continue to move downtown, this is a critical upgrade. Although those downtown dwellers have on complaint. Coffey said the volume comes pre-set to max and they’re working to turn them down.

“We adjust those volumes according to how far away the pedestrian crossing is from the audible beacon and then also ambient noise that’s in that area,” Coffey said.

The city expects to complete the upgrades within the next few weeks.

About the Author:

Shayne Dwyer is an award-winning journalist and a member of the 10 News team since May 2018.