Siskiyou pedestrian beacons delayed

The installation of pedestrian-activated flashing beacons — the last step in improving the safety of several crosswalks near Southern Oregon University — has been delayed by supply shortages but should be completed in November.

Efforts to improve the safety of the crosswalks began after SOU student Gladys Jiminez, 22, was killed in February walking across the Garfield intersection at the busy Siskiyou Boulevard. Since then, the crosswalks have received upgrades, including rumble strips, bright pedestrian flags, large warning signs and a speed limit reduction from 30 to 25 mph.

The flashers will be installed on Siskiyou at Bridge, Avery and University Way, but the Garfield intersection must wait until it's reconfigured to include a center median, said city Program Manager Jim Olson.

The flashers, built by Carmanah Technology and distributed by Western Systems in Washington state, will be mounted on 13-foot poles on either curb and on the median and must be activated by pushing a button. They cost about $1,400 each and the city will install 10.

The Siskiyou crosswalk at Ashland High School now has also has a crossing guard during school hours. AHS students use part of the abandoned Lincoln Elementary School across the boulevard and often use the crosswalk in walking between campuses.

Few students use the orange flags that were fastened in receptacles on poles at either end of crosswalks at SOU. Olson said that, after discussions with the university — which will pay half the costs — the city decided not to use motion sensors to activate the new flashing beacons.

"We felt they (students) needed to take some responsibility and make some effort" to activate the beacons, said Olson, because if they were activated by motion sensors, they "would be going all the time" and drivers would pay less attention to them.

SOU is also working with students to remind them to use the flags and to wait until they get visual recognition from approaching drivers before they enter the crosswalks.

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