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Roadscapes Wednesday: Making The Crosswalk Along AL-21 At Jacksonville State University Safer

Welcome to the Roadscapes Wednesday segment! Each week here on Geek Alabama, Roadscapes Wednesday will feature roads and infrastructure related topics. Geek Alabama Editor / Publisher Nathan Young is often called the “road geek” for a good reason, Nathan loves roads and loves talking about roads!

Yesterday, a woman was seriously injured and later died while crossing a crosswalk along AL-21 on the Jacksonville State University campus.  I knew something like this was eventually going to happen.  A crosswalk along a major state highway was asking for trouble.  Now, this crosswalk does have signage including a school sign with LED lights and LED flashing reflectors in the pavement that are mostly not working now.

 

There is also hardly any overhead lighting.  There are a few overhead lights, but not enough.

 

The issue with this crosswalk is the LARGE number of pedestrians crossing at this crosswalk with no chances for vehicle traffic to pass this crosswalk.  During the weekday, you can see large amounts of traffic backing up, and at times blocking the traffic light intersection at AL-204.

 

And the crazy thing is, just over a 1/2 mile north of this crosswalk, AL-21 has a speed limit of 65.  Yes, 65.  The speed limit drops quickly to 25 at the crosswalk.  But, many do not observe the speed limit.

 

The day after the accident, university police were out.  But on most days when I pass through here, no police are present.

 

So, what can be done to make this crosswalk safer?  For starters, traffic coming south on AL-21 towards the crosswalk needs a speed checker.  Just like the one going south on US 431 down the mountain.

 

Second, I noticed quite a few pedestrians crossing the crosswalk not looking both ways before crossing.  A sign warning pedestrians to look both ways before crossing would help.

 

But ultimately, a traffic signal is needed at this crosswalk.  There is a new type of signal called a HAWK Beacon or HAWK Signal.  This would work well at this crosswalk.  Let’s hope ALDOT ALDONT will do something about this before someone else is hurt here.  I’m not holding my breath the way ALDONT operates in this state.  Examples of a HAWK Signal are below.

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