Back in December I reported that the city of Dallas was finally repairing the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Reagan Street, as shown in the above photo. So you can imagine my surprise last week when I heard that only a few of the roughly 20 pavement-level lights in the crosswalk are actually working. I immediately put a call in to Alex Wong, senior program manager for traffic field operations at the city, who explained that the crosswalk was indeed repaired in December. Unfortunately, when the repairs were made, it was discovered that additional lights had stopped working, Wong said. Now, the city is waiting for more replacement lights to arrive from the Canadian vendor that supplies them. He said the remainder of the new lights should be installed in the next few weeks.
If you’ll remember, the crosswalk has been broken since the spring of 2009, when a crew mistakenly sawed through the wires leading to the lights during some sort of street repair. The city later announced it would no longer fix the 5-year-old crosswalk, because it had become too expensive. However, under pressure from city councilmembers and nearby business owners, officials eventually changed their mind. Wong said as part of this whole process, the city considered replacing the crosswalk, which has continually failed over the years, with a better design. But officials determined that a replacement system would cost more than $30,000. He said the current repairs, including the new lights that are being shipped, will cost more than $10,000.
“We really got stuck with the current system because we just don’t have a large enough maintenance budget,” Wong said. “We’ll continue to do this type of itemized repair work. In a few years it probably will cost more than a total system replacement.”
Wong acknowledged that the crosswalk is likely to continue malfunctioning, and that the entire system inevitably needs to be replaced. Asked when that will finally happen, Wong said, “It depends on the economy. If the economy is good, the city will be able to provide us a little more maintenance budget.”
For business owners on the strip, the situation is frustrating, and they say it poses a safety threat to pedestrians. Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said business owners have discussed all sorts of potential solutions to the problem, including providing flags that pedestrians could carry across the street or recruiting a drag queen crossing guard.
“Maybe we should have a contest: Who can come up with the best idea for our crosswalk, to make it safer?” Whittall said. “There’s got to a be a solution that we can all put our heads together and come up with that will make this a safer crosswalk.”