ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Alexandria’s first High intensity Activated crossWalK traffic signal (HAWK Signal) was activated on Wednesday, October 29.
‘HAWK’ is an acronym for High intensity Activated crossWalK. These signals have been used safely and successfully in Tucson, AZ. for more than five years. The signal is currently ‘experimental’ and required approval from the Federal Highway Administration but is expected to be adopted into standard traffic engineering manuals in the near future.
The HAWK is technically a “beacon” in that it remains dark for traffic unless a pedestrian activates the pushbutton. When the pedestrian presses the button, approaching drivers will see a FLASHING YELLOW for a few second, indicating that they should reduce speed and be prepared to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
The FLASHING YELLOW is followed by a SOLID YELLOW and then by a solid RED, requiring them to STOP at the stop line. At this time, the pedestrian receives a WALK indication on the associated countdown timer. Visually impaired pedestrians will hear the signal indicate that it is safe to cross. At the end of the WALK indication, the pedestrian is displayed a FLASHING DON’T WALK indication and motorist sees an ALTERNATING FLASHING RED. During this period, motorists are required to STOP or remain stopped until pedestrians have finished crossing the street, and then may proceed.
The HAWK signal is located at N. Van Dorn Street and Maris Ave. I finally checked it out the other day.
- Only one of the two crosswalks has pedestrian signals assigned to it which limits the usability of the signal.
- There is no signal for Maris Ave. If it were up to me, I’d have a red light that would be active when the pedestrian signals are in use.
- I do not think this HAWK signal will get used very much since the sidewalk on the southbound-lanes side of N. Van Dorn Street is really just a segment near the bus stop. I suspect almost all of its use will be during the evening rush.
Alexandria plans to install about a dozen of these throughout the city. It will be interesting to see where they turn up and how long until they are approved by FHWA for use every where. I expect Arlington to start putting a lot of these in if FHWA lets them.
PREVIOUSLY: Odd traffic signal
Van Dorn Street, Alexandria, Virginia, VA, HAWK signal, High intensity Activated crossWalK