STATE UPGRADES PEDESTRIAN LIGHTS IN THE PANHANDLE

Posted 1 year ago

By John Axtell

Ped lights-2It got safer this week for pedestrians in the six Panhandle cities where highways double as city streets to cross those streets.

Nebraska Department of Road crews upgraded the highway intersections in Chadron, Alliance, Scottsbluff, Mitchell, Kimball and Sidney that have traffic signals and pedestrian crossings to the countdown style of crossing lights that shows how much time is left before the light changes.

Maryann Jacobs is an engineer and program manager for the department’s District 5, which covers the 11 Panhandle counties. She says the upgrade is part of a statewide safety project that began last week in Valentine and moved down the Panhandle this week

The upgrades came as a surprise to city officials since traffic signals and crossing lights on highways are handled by the state even if they’re inside a city.

Chadron has one such intersection…Highway 20 or 3rd Street and Main. Public Works Director Milo Rust was out of town when the new lights were installed and first learned about the upgrade when he saw the lights in action on Tuesday.

The new pedestrian signals begin with a white figure walking, then switch to an orange upraised hand and a 15 second countdown that ends as the traffic light changes from green to amber.

The 3rd and Main signals at Chadron have a 4-second delay between the time one traffic signal turns red and the green lights appear for the other direction, so pedestrians have that much additional margin of error.