Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. proudly announces the activation of a new traffic signal near Maywood School to improve pedestrian safety for trail users of the Erie-Lackawanna Trail at 165th Street near Howard Avenue.
“We’ve been looking for a solution to improve trail use at the crossing over the past two years,” stated Mayor McDermott. “We found a great working solution to the crosswalk and had our City Engineer, Dean Button, put this plan into action. I’m happy that we can finally make this crosswalk safer for the students, pedestrians and trail goers in our City,” McDermott said.
The first of its kind in Northwest Indiana, the signal, called a HAWK Signal, is a cross between a traffic signal and a railroad crossing in that it does not become illuminated until the pedestrian pushbutton is depressed. HAWK stands for High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) Beacon Signal. Once depressed, the signal flashes yellow then turns to full red, requiring traffic to stop and allow pedestrians to cross. At the end of the crosswalk cycle, the signal flashes red then stops illuminating and vehicular traffic proceeds as normal. The signal was completed at a cost of $42,000.
City Engineer, Dean Button, is thrilled with the project’s completion but suggests caution. “As with all methods of traffic control, I ask that the motoring public take great care, particularly around this new signal. Motorists need to become familiar with how the signal functions and pedestrians need to make sure that traffic comes to a complete stop prior to crossing the street.”
The City of Hammond previously considered the construction of a new pedestrian bridge on the Erie-Lackawanna Trail crossing of 165th Street similar to the Erie-Lackawanna Trail crossing of Columbia Avenue and 167th Street. Early during the course of design of the 165th Street crossing, it was determined that the cost to protect underground utilities caused the cost of a bridge and even a tunnel to be too expensive to undertake. The advent of the newly designed HAWK signals provided a cost friendly solution compared to the construction of a bridge or tunnel. It was decided to submit a request for funding through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for three HAWK signals in Hammond. Upon further consideration, the decision was made to move forward with the early construction of the 165th Street HAWK signal crossing using City funds because this particular trail crossing is of the greatest concern to the City. Three future crossings are still planned with the HSIP funding available. These crossings are: 150th near Walnut (Grand Marquette Trail), Douglas at Lyman (Erie-Lackawanna Trail), and 175th near Northcote (Erie-Lackawanna Trail).