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Crosswalk upgraded at dangerous Gainesville intersection
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Jarvis Sanders crosses Athens Street near the Hall County Health Department. The city of Gainesville will soon put up additional warning lights at the present crosswalk. - photo by Tom Reed

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety, the city of Gainesville is revamping a crosswalk at what one city council member called a "dangerous intersection."

The city will install flashing lights triggered by a push button for pedestrians who cross Athens Street near the Hall County Health Department in an effort to maintain its record of pedestrian safety.

For the past five years, there hasn't been a single pedestrian fatality in the city.

The move was prompted by residents who complained that even crossing with the white-painted pedestrian lines felt like a risky endeavor because drivers still wouldn't always yield the right of way.

The crosswalk is located near a bus stop just east of Interstate 985 where there is a mixture of residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Although there are currently yellow pedestrian traffic signs, they apparently were not doing enough to encourage drivers to slow.

Dee Taylor, Gainesville's traffic engineer, said the fear was that the signage wasn't noticeable enough to drivers.

"It's something else to grab a driver's attention and say, ‘Hey, there's something going on here.'"

The upgrades, which won't be installed and operational until the spring, will have flashing lights on the pedestrian signs at either end of the road. When a pedestrian pushes a button before entering an intersection, the lights turn on to put drivers on notice.

The city has installed similar lights at other problematic crosswalks.

The costs, which will come out of the city's traffic calming fund, will cost $4,000.

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