The Cedar Springs Road crosswalk is 75 percent repaired — at least for now

When I was over on the strip for lunch Friday, I noticed what appeared to be the “signal construction department” working on the city of Dallas maintenance nightmare that is the Cedar Springs Road crosswalk. And today I put a call in to Alex Wong, the city’s program manager for traffic field operations, who assured me that I wasn’t dreaming.

Back in July, Wong told us the crosswalk would be fixed in October, so Friday’s repairs were right on schedule. And today Wong said the crosswalk is now functioning again — mostly.

The crew was able to replace about 15 of the 20 pavement-level lights that make up the crosswalk, Wong says. However, due to a bad tube of “settling compound” — which is used to attach the lights to the concrete — they weren’t able to replace the other five.

Wong said he’s ordered more settling compound but is unsure when it will arrive.

“Whenever it comes in, we’ll get out and work on it again,” he said.

Let’s just hope the other lights haven’t gone out by then.

—  John Wright

Oak Lawn is getting lit up, but what about the crosswalk on Cedar Springs at Reagan Street?

The crosswalk on Cedar Springs at Reagan Street has been a maintenance nightmare for the city of Dallas since it was installed in 2004.

Last week we reported that the city of Dallas will install 45 new streetlights in Oak Lawn over the next 60 days, in response to Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ Light Up Oak Lawn safety campaign. But speaking of lights, what about the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Reagan Street, which has again stopped working? Well, a city official told Instant Tea today that it will likely be October before the city can repair the broken lights in the crosswalk.

Alex Wong, the city’s program manager for traffic field operations, said in response to complaints over the last few weeks, a city inspector went out to check on the crosswalk this weekend. What he found is that more than half of the ground-level, flashing lights have stopped working. This marks at least the fifth time the city has had to repair the crosswalk since it was first installed in 2004. It’s the only crosswalk of its kind in Dallas, and it’s proven to be a poor design, Wong said.

Each time it costs the city roughly $5,000 to replace the lights, which are malfunctioning in part due to the uneven street surface. But it would cost $30,000 or $4o,o00 to replace the whole system, and that’s money the city doesn’t have.

“It’s really a Catch-22,” Wong said. “We really do not like the system, but what can I do? There’s no funding available for us to go with another approach.”

For now, the city will continue to repair the crosswalk, but first officials must identify a vendor for the parts and clear a backlog of other projects, Wong said.

In February 2009, the lights in the crosswalk had been out for more than six months when the city finally replaced them. Weeks later, after a construction crew mistakenly cut the wires to the lights, the city announced that it would no longer repair them. The announcement outraged local business owners, and the city finally agreed to repair the crosswalk. Those repairs were completed just 18 months ago — in December 2009.

—  John Wright

Cedar Springs crosswalk saga continues

crosswalk

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.”

—  John Wright