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Friday, April 12, 2024

Pedestrian beacons added to three crosswalks Alachua County Public Schools

Beacons located at Lake Forest Elementary School, Kanapaha Middle School and Eastside

<p>Kanapaha student crosses a sidewalk at the intersection of Tower Road and the entrance of Kanapaha Middle School Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.</p>

Kanapaha student crosses a sidewalk at the intersection of Tower Road and the entrance of Kanapaha Middle School Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

Walking to school just got a little bit safer, according to Alachua County. 

Alachua County installed flashing signs indicating to drivers when a pedestrian is crossing the road at three public school crosswalks.

The signs, known as Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons, were installed at Lake Forest Elementary School, Kanapaha Middle School and Eastside High School to increase pedestrian safety, said Brian Kauffman, Alachua County assistant public works director. 

Although the crosswalks are located on intersections, Kauffman said, there are no traffic lights allowing pedestrians to cross the road. Instead, pedestrians can press a button on the beacon to trigger the signs to light up. Drivers are required by Florida law to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

Beacons can reduce pedestrian car crashes by up to 47% and increase the proportion of drivers who yield at crosswalks by up to 98%, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

It’s unclear how much the six most recent beacons cost to install, but Kauffman is sure they came in under budget, he said.

This was the first time the county used in-house employees from the traffic maintenance division to install the beacons. While the county could originally only afford two crosswalks, which each cost about $25,000, cost consolidation allowed it to equip three crosswalks with beacons.

“They did a good job, and we're looking forward to doing more of them in the future,” Kauffman said.

The Parent Teacher Student Association at Kanapaha lobbied the school board for beacons, and members are happy they were installed, said Allison Castle, corresponding secretary for the PTSA.

The county plans to install beacons at three more crossings in 2024 at streets near Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Joseph Williams Elementary School and Irby Elementary School.

Contact Alissa Gary at agary@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.


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