Three Springfield City Councilors are urging the Department of Public Works to take steps toward establishing a HAWK Signalized Crosswalk, or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, between the Springfield Central Library and the facility’s parking lot, located across State Street.
Jesse Lederman, Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee that oversees libraries, Adam Gomez, whose Ward the library is located in, and Marcus Williams, Chairman of the Maintenance and Development Committee which oversees the Department of Public Works, sent a letter Friday to Mayor Domenic Sarno and DPW Director Chris Cignoli.
The lack of a direct crosswalk has long led to individuals crossing through the four-lane street with no protection, as the closest crosswalks are located uphill from the parking lot’s entrance, or downhill, which can be challenging for those who are disabled or traveling with children, and in times of inclement weather. Only one of those crosswalks is signalized.
“For many years neighborhood residents and library patrons have brought forward this issue as a concern, it is a serious public safety and neighborhood quality of life issue,” said At-Large City Councilor Jesse Lederman, “It is time to address this dangerous situation once and for all.”
The HAWK Pedestrian Beacon is an innovative traffic solution that creates a signalized crosswalk that can be triggered by pedestrians to safely and briefly halt traffic and allow the pedestrian to cross safely.
In their letter, the Councilors highlight that a similar signalized crossing was approved earlier in the year to connect the Mason Square Apartments, located at the former Indian Motorcycle Building and the Historic Mason Square Fire Station, to a new parking lot across the street on the Upper State Street Corridor, a set up similar to the State Street parking lot and the Central Library.
According to MassDOT, a 2010 study by the Federal Highway Administration found that the use of HAWK Beacons reduced total crashes by 29 percent and pedestrian crashed by 69 percent.
“I look forward on working with our city to make this crossing a reality,” said Ward 1 City Councilor Adam Gomez, “Residents, visitors, and employees of the quadrangle would benefit from another safe way to get to our greatest amenities. Books, Art, and Dr. Seuss; Safely!”
“A tragedy should not be the catalyst to get things done, but often it is,” said Ward 5 City Councilor Marcus Williams, “As a city, we should begin being more proactive in identifying public safety deficiencies. The buck doesn’t begin or end at seeking a crosswalk for this area of town, as there are many locations with a high volume of patrons who visit businesses and have to cross major roads in the process. We cannot and should not wait for another incident to occur before we act.”