Reader notices signal issue with new HAWK signal

A few people with hawk-like vision noticed something wrong when the city’s new crossing signal at Fifth and Lindsey streets was activated at the end of August.

The HAWK (high-intensity pedestrian activated walk) beacons above the intersection, which signal yellow and red for motorists to slow or stop for pedestrians, were initially installed upside down.

Photos published in The Republic prompted an inquiry from an astute reader who forwarded specifications for installation from the federal government. Those specifications from the Federal Highway Administration show the red signals are to be at the top, with the yellow below, instead of the way the lights were originally installed.

He wasn’t the only eagle eye.

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Dave Hayward, executive director of public works/city engineer, said one of his staff members made him aware of the error — and Hayward contacted the contractor right after that.

The lights have since been flipped to the correct configuration and are now installed properly.

The addition of the HAWK signal, and another that is planned on a mid-block crosswalk on Brown Street, is part of a project the city is doing with Cummins Inc. to improve downtown traffic patterns.

As part of that project, a section of Second Street in front of the Second Street parking garage, primarily used by residents at The Cole apartment complex, will be converted to two-way traffic.

In addition, Columbus Board of Works members have approved adding 17 angled parking spaces in a section of Second Street between Lindsey and Brown streets in front of the Franciscan medical office building and across from the new Upland Columbus Pump House. City officials said the section is marked for three traffic lanes — two eastbound and one westbound — and traffic volume easily could adapt to two lanes instead of three.

An additional HAWK signal is to be installed on the section of Brown that leads to the west entrance of the Cummins Corporate Office Building. Brown Street is being reduced from three lanes to two lanes and the speed limit is being lowered to 30 miles per hour. Cummins is paying for the cost of the new traffic signals.

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Here’s how the HAWK crossing signal works:

After a pedestrian activates the signal, the lights flash yellow to warn drivers a pedestrian or bicyclist is going to cross. The light then flashes steady yellow, advising drivers to stop if safe to do so.

The signal then turns solid red, requiring vehicles to stop while the individual crosses. Once the walk time is completed, the signal goes to flashing red, requiring drivers to stop, and then proceed through the intersection if no one is in the crosswalk.

The HAWK then returns to an off position.