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New crosswalk countdown lights tell pedestrians when the red light’s coming

Some of the intersections along downtown Spokane’s Third Avenue have new pedestrian indicators that count down the time from when the “don’t walk” signal begins flashing to when the light changes to red. (Jesse Tinsley)
Some of the intersections along downtown Spokane’s Third Avenue have new pedestrian indicators that count down the time from when the “don’t walk” signal begins flashing to when the light changes to red. (Jesse Tinsley)

Downtown Spokane pedestrians are getting a new look at crosswalks along Second and Third avenues.

The city of Spokane has been installing pedestrian signals that tell walkers how much time they have left to clear crosswalks before the traffic light changes.

The illuminated countdown is displayed in orange and begins in tandem with the flashing don’t-walk phase.

“If citizens know they have only three or four seconds to cross the street, they won’t go, so they make a more informed decision about whether to cross the street,” said Marlene Feist, spokeswoman for the city.

At Monroe Street and Third Avenue, the countdown begins at 13 seconds.

Even though it’s against the law, pedestrians commonly begin crossing during the flashing don’t-walk phase.

Studies show that the countdown signals may give pedestrians the mistaken impression it’s OK to enter the crosswalk during the flashing don’t-walk phase. State law says pedestrians are supposed to wait once the flashing starts.

But transportation officials want to keep people from getting hurt. Once a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, the countdown helps them clear the intersection before the light changes.

The countdown signals, which began appearing in other cities more than a decade ago, are now making their debut in Spokane thanks to a $100,000 federal grant.

Feist said state transportation officials arranged the funding to improve pedestrian safety along heavily traveled Second and Third avenues. Most of the new signals are being installed on Third Avenue between Division and Maple streets. Second Avenue is getting the signals at Maple and Walnut streets.

Weather slows Barker work

Weather-related holdups on Barker Road bridge construction in Spokane Valley have resulted in the contractor going past a deadline that was set in the contract.

The job now is expected to be finished at the end of June, said Carolbelle Branch, spokeswoman for Spokane Valley.

Contractor Morgen-Osgood, of Great Falls, is required to pay the city $3,500 a day in liquidated damages for going past the 407-day contract deadline, she said.

In addition to weather delays during the past winter, the project also was limited by how much time could be spent in the river building piers. The limits were imposed to protect spawning fish, Branch said.

Pilot wasn’t fully trained

Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins said that a Southwest flight delay Thursday occurred when a pilot was not fully trained to make an instrument landing on one of the runways at Spokane International Airport in bad weather.

Southwest is converting to a new $200 million instrument landing system that uses global positioning technology. Each pilot is required to make six fair-weather approaches on each runway before being allowed to make a landing in bad weather under Southwest’s own safety protocols, he said. That is in addition to Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

He said the problem is not likely to occur again as the airline’s pilots complete the required training that began in April.

Stateline bridge closing

The bridge over the Spokane River at Appleway Road and Stateline Village, Idaho, is closing today for two years, said Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, spokeswoman for Spokane County.

The 1939 bridge will be demolished and a new one built in its place.

Road work continues

U.S. Highway 395 from Wandermere Road to the north end of the highway bridge over the Little Spokane River continues to be limited to one lane in each direction during construction of a new north Spokane freeway interchange.

Elsewhere, reconstruction of U.S. Highway 195 south of Interstate 90 continues to cause lane restrictions while workers repair and rebuild the concrete pavement.

Paving work on U.S. 195 near Uniontown continues with traffic restrictions.

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