City officials looking for less expensive alternative to lighting system now being used
In response to an apparent outcry from the community, the city of Dallas now plans to stick with ground-level flashing lights in the Cedar Springs Road crosswalk at Reagan Street.
Last month, city officials infuriated nearby business owners by announcing they planned to get rid of the ground-level flashing lights, saying they’d become too expensive to maintain. The crosswalk, the only one of its kind in Dallas, hasn’t been working properly for several months, after a city crew reportedly cut the wires leading to the lights during an emergency water main repair.
Steve Cherryholmes, a district engineering program manager for the city, said this week that officials are now soliciting bids to replace the lights, which are activated when pedestrians press buttons on either side of the street.
"We’re essentially going to put what’s out there back in," Cherryholmes said. "We’ve gotten a lot of community input, and they really like the lights, so we’re going to try to stick with that but try to find a more cost-effective system."
Cherryholmes said his department hopes to identify a vendor for the lights within the next few weeks, but he added that he’s unsure how long it will be before they’re replaced.
The crosswalk was first installed in 2004, and city officials estimate they’ve spent an average of $6,000 to $8,000 each year to repair and maintain it. Before the lights were damaged during the water main repair, the city spent $5,400 to fix them in February.
City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, whose district borders Cedar Springs Road on one side, said this week that the decision to preserve the ground-level flashing lights likely came in response to inquiries by her and Councilwoman Angela Hunt.
"I think they [city staff] probably surmised that Angela and I weren’t happy," Medrano said.
Hunt, whose district borders the opposite side of the street, vowed in July to try to preserve the ground-level flashing lights. Hunt said this week she wanted to get an update from city staff before commenting further.
Medrano noted that even with the ground-level lights working properly and activated, the crosswalk is dangerous because some motorists don’t stop for them.
"I do think we need to do additional things besides that," Medrano said. "I think we need some positive police presence."
Alan Pierce, co-owner of the Round-Up Saloon, agreed.
Pierce, who was instrumental in getting the crosswalk installed five years ago, said a pedestrian was hit in the crosswalk and suffered a shattered kneecap as recently as about a month ago.
"It’s great that it’s going to be repaired — you wouldn’t believe the number of customers who’ve asked me about it," Pierce said. "You’re taking your own life in your hands to cross the street there, even with those flashing lights. I would hope that the city would bring a little more enforcement. That would be my only additional request."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 28, 2009.