Years of safety concerns presented by parents and concerned citizens over middle school students crossing State Road Spur 40 before and after school has long been a discussion in the community. There could be a solution – a new pedestrian-activated crosswalk.
Back in February, the City of St Marys received some results from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) traffic study along State Road 40 and State Road Supr 40 concerning pedestrian activity.
According to a recommendation from GDOT engineer Cynthia Phillips, a traffic study determined that a Hawk Beacon (High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk) be installed 600 feet north of State Road 40 along State Road Spur 40, also known as Charlie Smith Sr Highway.
Hawk Beacons allow pedestrians to safely walk across busy intersections and roadways during gaps in traffic. Pedestrians can walk up to a designated area to cross and activate a push-button which automatically displays a solid-no-walk signal changing into a signal to walk across the street. The Hawk Beacon will also signal a flashing yellow light overhead then turning to red alerting motorists to stop.
According to Public Works Director Bobby Marr, the crosswalk will be installed somewhere between the side entrance to the middle school off Spur 40 and James Jewelers.
The project received input from City Officials, St. Marys Police Department officers, and Camden County School officials.
The city will be required to pay for electricity to the Hawk Beacon, and the city will be required to submit their application to GDOT for installation of the Hawk Beacon. The City Council voted for the approval to submit the application to GDOT.
A timeline of when the Hawk Beacon was to be installed has not been discussed since the application approval process is underway. Public Works Director Bobby Marr said that the city is still waiting for the application to be approved and funded by GDOT since Spur 40 is a state road.
GDOT has not asked the city for additional funding for the light, but according to Public Works Director Bobby Marr, GDOT does have that right to ask for the city to contribute.
“This was a citizen-driven effort to make the council more aware of the seriousness of the condition. This is a great demonstration of how things work when we all talk and communicate with one another,” said Mayor John Morrissey.