FENWICK ISLAND – Efforts to install pedestrian crosswalk systems will move forward in Fenwick Island with the help of state funding.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to support the installation of pedestrian crosswalk systems at the intersections of Bayard Drive and Coastal Highway and Oyster Bay Drive and Coastal Highway.
Town Manager Terry Tieman said the town will utilize roughly $26,000 in Community Transportation Funds to purchase four Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) crosswalk systems.
“All I am asking for is the support for the installation,” she said. “There are no Fenwick dollars to be contributed at this point.”
Tieman said efforts to install the RRFB crosswalk systems began last fall, when town officials met with representatives with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to discuss pedestrian safety in Fenwick Island.
While DelDOT has presented the town with a plan to place signage at crosswalks, it did not include funding for the RRFB systems. To that end, town officials asked DelDOT representatives if Fenwick Island could fund the crosswalk systems at two locations.
“We’ve been working with DelDOT on pedestrian safety, and they have agreed to put signage on our crosswalks all throughout the town, but two crosswalk areas we thought were especially critical and dangerous were the ones here at Bayard Street Oyster Bay Drive …,” she said. “We contacted DelDOT and asked them if they would be amenable to this and they said yes.”
Tieman said the town approached Senator Gerald Hocker and Representative Ron Gray for help in funding the crosswalk systems after officials received a purchase price.
“They graciously agreed to use Community Transportation Funds to fund it, so we are very, very happy,” she said.
Because the town agreed to buy the systems, Tieman said DelDOT will have contractors pour four cement foundations for each device at the intersections and install the four crosswalk systems.
“We’re working cooperatively with DelDOT, and that’s been a huge success,” she said.
Tieman said the town will install solar-powered crosswalk systems in an effort to cut costs. Once installed, pedestrians crossing Coastal Highway at Bayard Street and Oyster Bay Drive can use the systems to alert drivers.
“You push the button and it starts to flash,” she said. “That alerts drivers and brings attention to the fact that someone is trying to cross.”
With no further discussion, the town council voted 5-0, with Councilman Bernie Merritt and Councilwoman Vicki Carmean absent, to support the installation of the four RRFB crosswalk systems.
“I think it’s worthwhile,” Tieman said. “We can’t underestimate the value of having a safe place to cross.”
Councilman Bill Weistling agreed, but cautioned that pedestrians should still be vigilant when crossing Coastal Highway.
“Let’s just hope it doesn’t bring a false sense of security,” he said. “People still have to realize when they push that button and the light flashes they can’t just step off into the middle of the highway.”