Five crosswalks in downtown Gallatin will be getting upgrades aimed at improving pedestrian safety.
The Gallatin City Council unanimously approved on final reading last week an ordinance appropriating $132,200 in remaining bond funds from 2014 and 2016 to be used to add in-street lighting along both sides of each crosswalk, which would flash when activated by a pedestrian.
The crosswalks are located on East Main Street near the Gallatin Public Library, on North Water Avenue near Swaney Swift’s on the Square and on West Main Street near city hall.
“This has been my dream for years,” District 5 Councilman John D. Alexander said about finally replacing the warning signs that are currently in the roadway. “I’ve never liked them out there in the road. They are knocked down once or twice every week and I’m sure we’ve probably had damage to some people’s cars too. This will be very beneficial for everybody – the city, pedestrians and drivers.”
In response to safety concerns, the city first placed the signs in the middle of the road near the crosswalks on East Main Street and South Water Avenue in 2014 to warn motorists of potential pedestrian traffic, according to information provided by Gallatin Public Works.
Since that time, $10,000 has been spent on the installation, replacement and repair of the signs with crews spending an average of five hours on maintenance and repair each week.
“They are a maintenance nuisance, but from a safety standpoint they are effective,” former Gallatin Public Works Superintendent Zach Wilkinson told city leaders in September about the current signage. “From a vehicular traffic standpoint, they do make it challenging to navigate sometimes.”
In addition to the in-street lighting, other potential options included adding rectangular flashing beacons that would act like a strobe light facing each direction on each side of the crosswalks or adding lights around existing crosswalk signs already in place near the sidewalks.
According to Wilkinson, embedding the lighting in the road would be the “most effective and safest for pedestrians.” He also told officials last year that the solution is “pretty reliable” and should not require much maintenance if installed properly.
Of the three options to increase pedestrian safety, in-street lighting for all five crosswalks was the most expensive with an estimated cost of $132,000 to install, according to cost estimates provided by the city’s public works department. The rectangular rapid flashing beacons would cost an estimated $84,000 while the flashing pedestrian crossing signs would cost an estimated $34,000.
A timeline for when the project will be completed has not yet been finalized.