Karen Kearney, chairwoman of the Balboa/South Indian Trail Neighborhood Council, led an effort to obtain grant funding for a pedestrian crossing across busy Indian Trail Road near Assumption Catholic Church and School.
In addition to a painted crosswalk, the crossing at Weile Avenue includes Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacon lights that pedestrians can trigger to alert drivers they want to cross the four-lane road. Drivers are supposed to stop when the flashing lights are activated, allowing people to cross the street safely. The entire project, including the solar-powered lights, cost $50,000.
The funding came from money from photo red light traffic ticket fines set aside for traffic calming measures by the city of Spokane. Neighborhoods are encouraged to apply for funding for traffic calming measures on city streets that can also include roundabouts.
The crossing is meant to be a traffic calming measure, which means that it encourages drivers to slow down, Kearney said. It also helps increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. “It’s definitely a safety issue,” she said. “This is a great walking neighborhood.”
One of the main issues in the neighborhood is the traffic on Indian Trail Road. “Until you get to Francis and Alberta, there are no crosswalks,” she said. “I’ve seen them go in excess of 50, 60 miles per hour. It’s bad.”
Kearney said she met with the parish priest at Assumption Church and he said a crossing was needed for the school’s students. There are other schools nearby as well, including Indian Trail Elementary, Balboa Elementary and Salk Middle School. That convinced her to apply to the city for the funding to pay for the crossing. The city did its own checking to see if the crossing was really needed, Kearney said.
“They decided after their study that it was needed also,” she said.
She said she’s seen people using the crossing and drivers are good about heeding the flashing lights and slowing down or stopping so pedestrians can cross safely. “It’s been shown that they significantly enhance driver yielding behavior,” she said.
The Balboa/Indian Trail Neighborhood Council, which Kearney has led for nine years, often focuses on traffic issues, she said. “That’s kind of where this neighborhood council has been,” she said. “We don’t have a fire station, we don’t have a community center, but we do have traffic.”
The crossing was completed a couple of months ago. “It’s a start of a good safety measure,” she said. “It needs a lot of help. I just want to make things safer for my neighborhood.”
Kearney said she hopes to get more crossings added and that more is done to make Indian Trail a safer street. “There really needs to be more than one, but I got one in,” she said. “I’m proud of that achievement.”
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