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New traffic signal aimed at helping pedestrians in downtown Gainesville
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The city of Gainesville has activated a new crossing to replace the existing pedestrian crossing at Academy Street and Northside Drive. The crossing features a pedestrian signal, known as the high-intensity activated crosswalk, or HAWK, pedestrian light. When activated by a pedestrian, the HAWK signal will first turn yellow to warn drivers before turning to red to indicate that traffic should come to a complete stop. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Aidia Stuart often walks her dog on the square in downtown Gainesville and has often encountered drivers who don’t slow down to let them walk.

Reagan Craven also is concerned by drivers’ lack of caution. Both are grateful for an improved pedestrian crosswalk using a high-intensity activated crosswalk, or HAWK, light at Academy Street and Northside Drive, a short distance from the square.

When activated by a pedestrian, the HAWK signal will first turn yellow to warn drivers before turning to red to indicate that traffic should come to a complete stop. After a set amount of time, the red signal will begin to flash, indicating drivers can proceed if no pedestrian is in the crosswalk.

“People are always driving around way too fast,” Craven said. “It’s good that the city is trying to protect the citizens, especially having a lot of teenagers from the high school walking around the area.”

Gainesville Public Works Director Chris Rotalsky said the HAWK light will help improve pedestrian access to the Rock Creek Greenway. Rotalsky said the temporary red light will be coordinated with the existing traffic lights where Academy intersects with Oak and Bradford streets.

Emily Avila, a local student, hopes the new crossing will not only be a safeguard for walkers, but that it will ease traffic for drivers, as well.