Cedar Springs gets flashier

Crosswalk lights, signs represent 1st phase of pedestrian safety plan

IMG_6176

SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE | New signs warn pedestrians to use crosswalks, above, and cars to watch for pedestrians. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

City crews have begun implementing a three-part plan to make Cedar Springs safer for pedestrians with the installation of new signs and crosswalks. The short-term plan should be completed over the next few weeks.

Then, engineering studies will be conducted in February to determine whether additional traffic signals are needed and whether a turn lane should be removed. If warranted, that work will be done in June.

A long-term study will include the possibility of adding a center island with trees and wider sidewalks, and reducing traffic to two lanes.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Cedar Springs Merchant Association discussed the safety improvements during its first monthly meeting of the year, which was attended byIMG_6167-1-(dragged) Paula Blackmon, Mayor Mike Rawlings’ chief of staff.

In response to four traffic accidents involving pedestrians that included two fatalities within two months, the city has been working to find solutions to improve safety in the entertainment district, which the Merchant Association now refers to as The Strip on Cedar Springs.

“We want to see The Strip become the international destination that it should be,” said ilume developer Luke Crosland. He said ilume 2, to be built on property diagonally across from ilume, could break ground within the next few weeks. Crosland favors the two-lane approach to make the area more pedestrian friendly and more attractive.

He mentioned that The Strip does $30 million in alcohol sales annually and he’s about to invest $55 million in construction there — and he expressed frustration with the city for not paying closer attention to an important economic engine.

The short-term solution for traffic and pedestrian safety is almost complete. That plan began with the installation of additional street lighting early in January.

New crosswalks have been painted at Knight Street, with eye-level yellow warning flashers added at Knight and Reagan streets. For the first 30 days, the lights will flash constantly to warn drivers of pedestrians in the area. After that, they’ll be activated by buttons.

“No pedestrian crossing” signs were installed in the middle of the block in front of Kroger and ilume. Additional police enforcement has also begun. On Thursday morning, police cars were patrolling Cedar Springs Road after Buli owner Robert Clauson and others at the meeting asked for additional patrols.

Also this week, a push to educate pedestrians got under way. The effort includes fliers distributed by Cedar Springs merchants to explain the pedestrian crossing lights and encourage everyone to cross only in marked places.

The last item on the first phase of the plan is the lighted crosswalk near the Round-Up Saloon, which will be raised 6 inches to slow traffic. Yield bars will be painted in the street in advance of the crosswalk to distance vehicles from pedestrians.

In February, a study will be conducted to determine whether traffic signals are needed at Knight Street and Reagan Street. The study is expected to show that a signal is needed at Knight Street. The signal has already been paid for and would be installed in June.

The study is also expected to call for the removal of the island and turn lane on the southeast corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas.

Cedar Springs Merchant Association Executive Director Scott Whittall said the study may determine that from Reagan Street onto Cedar Springs would be safer as a right turn only from either direction.

The plan also calls for looking for “opportunities to install trees or other vegetation to calm traffic.”
CSMA formed two committees. One will be to create a long-term traffic plan for The Strip. The second is to create a plan for where taxis can stop to pick up fares along Cedar Springs Road.

Whittall announced upcoming events on Cedar Springs including the March Wine Walk and Easter in the Park. The Merchant Association took over that event last year with just a few weeks notice when its longtime sponsor, the Turtle Creek Association, pulled out.

Whittall said that word-of-mouth about last year’s reintroduction of Razzle Dazzle Dallas was strong. He expected twice as many people to attend this year’s main event on June 9. An announcement about entertainment will be made soon.

He also announced a new marketing campaign. He said that the entertainment district’s Facebook page was taken down and will be reintroduced in March after a new logo is chosen from a contest the merchants are holding.

The group is marketing the area as The Strip on Cedar Springs, which is how it is now most commonly known. Since Crossroads Market closed, few continue to refer to the area as The Crossroads.

Whittall compared The Strip’s Facebook fan page to that of Bishop Arts District. BAD has more than 17,000 fans, while Cedar Springs had just a few thousand. He said that was because the page was called the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, which sounded like it was a trade group rather than an entertainment district.

The logo contest-winner will be named at Easter in the Park and the new The Strip on Cedar Springs Facebook page will be launched then.

……………………

The Cedar Springs Merchant Association is running a contest to design a new logo. For more info or to enter, go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

For the 4th time in 2 months, a pedestrian was struck last week on the Cedar Springs strip

A 72-year-old pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. He was taken to Parkland Hospital and released on Christmas Day.

Lyle Bainbridge said he was crossing the street in the crosswalk and vehicles had stopped in both directions, when a motorist sped around the stopped vehicles and hit him.

He said he was thrown and his head landed in the gutter just inches from the car that hit him.

The driver of that vehicle stopped and told Bainbridge that he was delivering pizzas and was on his cell phone talking to the owner of his store. Bainbridge said the man was apologetic and in tears when he got out of his car.

Bainbridge has a broken collar bone. Doctors detected heart defibrillation problems that may have been a result of the accident. He said he had not been diagnosed previously with heart problems.

Bainbridge, who is from California, is in Dallas for the holidays house-sitting for a friend.

This is the fourth time a pedestrian has been hit on Cedar Springs Road in two months and the third time near this same location.

On Nov. 25, Edward Lee King, 61, was struck by a driver and killed crossing Cedar Springs Knight Street. Wayne Priest, 55, was killed by a hit-and-run driver near Cedar Springs and Reagan Street on Nov. 3.

A 10-year-old girl was hit on Dec. 10 near Knight Street. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

After the earlier accidents, Councilwoman Angela Hunt asked city staff to looks at ways to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Bainbridge said he wanted to call awareness to his accident to push the city to take action. He said that there should be stop signs at the intersection if not traffic lights.

“It takes something drastic happening before they’ll do something,” he said.

When he learned about the previous accidents at the intersection, he said he wondered how many more people will be hit before the city makes safety in this area a priority.

It was unclear whether the driver who hit Bainbridge received a citation. Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department, said an accident report was not yet available.

—  David Taffet

Fatal hit-and-run raises safety concerns

Pedestrian struck, killed near unlighted crosswalk on Cedar Springs strip

Oak-Lawn-MapJOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

A fatal hit-and-run accident on the Cedar Springs strip last week has led to renewed debate about what can be done to make the street safer for pedestrians.

Wayne Priest, 55, passed away Friday, Nov. 4, at Parkland hospital from injuries he sustained the night before when he was struck near an unlighted crosswalk at 3850 Cedar Springs Road, at the intersection of Reagan Street eastbound.

Priest, who lived in the 2800 block of Reagan Street, reportedly was on his way to pick up a prescription at Walgreens shortly after 9 p.m. He was crossing Cedar Springs a few feet outside the painted crosswalk, according to witnesses, when he was struck by a maroon four-door vehicle traveling southbound toward Oak Lawn Avenue. The driver of the vehicle didn’t stop and hasn’t been located by police.

“I think any time we have a tragedy like this, we have to investigate whether there are things the city can do to make the area safer for pedestrians,” Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt said this week. “What I’ve asked the city to do is look into exactly what happened and to make recommendations about how we can move forward in making the area safer. I think the challenge we’ve had in the past is the city has been focused on moving cars, not people, and we’re trying to refocus that.”

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said in the wake of the incident, pedestrian safety was the main topic of discussion at the group’s monthly board meeting this week. The Merchants Association plans to invite both Hunt and Councilwoman Pauline Medrano to its next meeting to a take a firsthand look at crosswalks on the strip.

Whittall said the Merchants Association feels the city needs to either remove the crosswalk near which Priest was hit or add more signage. The crosswalk is marked with a sign on the side of the street in one direction but not the other. Whittall said the Merchants Association would like to see free-standing crosswalk signs in the middle of the street, like the ones where Knox Street crosses the Katy Trail a few miles away.

“It’s an entertainment district, and there are going to be a lot of people on the street,” Whittall said. “There needs to be proper signage on this crosswalk. Unfortunately, something like this has to happen before people pay attention again.”

Another crosswalk half a block away on Cedar Springs has flashing lights in the roadway and on both sides of the street which can be activated by pedestrians. However, it has been a maintenance headache for the city, which only recently repaired it after the flashing lights failed for at least the third time in the last few years.

“It’s very unfortunate that this is happening right when we finally got the other crosswalk fixed,” Whittall said, adding that the Merchants Association would also like to see the city follow through with plans to add surveillance cameras on Cedar Springs. “We probably would have been able to catch the driver if we’d had those cameras.”

If caught, the driver would now face third-degree felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident causing injury or death, according to Detective D.T. Marchetti of the Dallas Police Department’s Vehicle Crimes Unit.

“The investigation is open and we are actively seeking the individual that struck him,” Marchetti said Tuesday. “I’m surprised there weren’t more witnesses to it. I’m surprised we didn’t get a tag number or a partial tag or a better description of the vehicle.”

According to a police report, the impact of the collision was so severe that it caused one of Priest’s shoes to fly off. Marchetti said a second vehicle struck Priest after he was lying in the roadway. The driver of the that vehicle remained at the scene.

Assuming the driver of the first vehicle that struck Priest wasn’t intoxicated, they wouldn’t have faced charges if they’d stopped, Marchetti said. That’s because there’s no indication the driver was speeding and Priest was outside the crosswalk, albeit by only a few feet. But Marchetti added that the No. 1 reason people leave accident scenes at night is because they’re intoxicated.

One of Priest’s roommates, Carrie Moon, said this week she’s hoping the driver will be found.

“It is one thing to make a horrible mistake and try to do what you can to help,” Moon said. “It is another thing to make a horrible mistake and just leave a person to die in the street. How this person can live with themselves is beyond me.”

Moon said she’d known Priest for about a year after they met at the Oak Lawn library. She and her boyfriend were looking for a room to rent, and Priest needed help with expenses.

Priest was from Louisiana but was estranged from family there and had moved to Dallas a few years ago. Moon said he’d been married twice and had a daughter.

Moon said Priest had struggled with his sexual orientation for most of his life but recently came out as gay after moving to Oak Lawn. He was a member of the Cathedral of Hope.

“He was in his mid-50s and it took moving to this area to for once in his life feel like he could be himself and not be judged, not even by the church, which was very important to him,” Moon said. “It was like he was starting over, and he had a lot of hope of finding a partner and a new life, and then this happened, which is just so sad.”

Moon said she was trying to coordinate funeral arrangements with Priest’s family in Louisiana. She said his wishes were to be cremated and buried near his son who committed suicide. The service likely will be held in New Orleans.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call the Vehicle Crimes Unit at 214-670-5817.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

BREAKING: Pedestrian critically injured by hit-and-run driver on Cedar Springs strip

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that the pedestrian was struck in the lighted crosswalk at 3900 Cedar Springs Road, at the intersection of westbound Reagan Street. According to police, the pedestrian was actually struck in the non-lighted crosswalk at 3850 Cedar Springs Road, which is at the intersection of eastbound Reagan Street.

A pedestrian crossing Cedar Springs Road was critically injured Thursday night when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver near the crosswalk at 3850 Cedar Springs Road, at the intersection of Reagan Street eastbound. There is only a painted crosswalk on the street and no traffic signals or lights at the intersection, near Thai Lotus Restaurant and the Drama Room.

Wayne Earl Priest, 55, who lives in the 2800 block of Reagan Street, was crossing Cedar Springs Road eastbound shortly after 9 p.m., according to a police report. A witness saw Priest “walking outside of the northern portion of the crosswalk by about 2 feet and then stop in the left lane near the double yellow lines.”

The witness said the suspect’s vehicle exited a private drive to the north and began traveling southbound on Cedar Springs, the report states. The front left side of the suspect’s vehicle struck the left side of Priest. The impact was so severe that it caused Priest’s shoe to fly off and strike the witness’ vehicle. Another witness told police he was “not totally certain” whether Priest was in the crosswalk at the time of the collision.

Priest was taken to Parkland hospital in critical condition. The suspect who struck Priest failed to stop and render aid or leave his information. A description of the suspect’s vehicle was not available.

UPDATE:

Lt. Scott Bratcher of the Dallas Police Department’s Traffic Division said the suspect’s vehicle is described only as a maroon four-door.

“Right now we’re looking for anybody who’s seen anything or knows anything to call our Vehicle Crimes Unit,” Bratcher said Friday afternoon. “That’s usually how we end up solving these things.”

The number for DPD’s Vehicle Crimes Unit is 214-670-5817.

Bratcher said he had no update on Priest’s condition.

—  John Wright

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

Pavillion owner recovering from hit-and-run

Website taking donations and fundraisers planned to help pay medical bills for Dan Friessen

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dan Friessen
Dan Friessen

Barbara’s Pavillion owner Dan Friessen is out of the hospital and recovering after being struck by a hit-and-run driver about 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 as he was walking from his car toward the bar, located at 325 Centre St. in Oak Cliff.

According to police , Friessen was crossing the street, but not at a crosswalk. A Honda only described as gray or silver hit him and threw him 45 feet into a parked car.

The driver fled without rendering aid or leaving identification.

Three witnesses from Dallas Can Academy across the street saw the incident but did not get a license plate number.

Friessen was rushed to Methodist Hospital where he was admitted to intensive care with multiple injuries that were not life threatening.

He had surgery to repair his facial injuries. His jaw is wired shut since the surgery and he remains on a liquid diet.

Because of injuries to his ankle, he was unable to stand unassisted.

On Dec. 12, he was released from the hospital and on Monday, he stopped by the bar.

Friessen has no insurance. A website, HelpOutDan.com, and a Facebook page called “Help Out Dan Friessen” have been created to assist with the cost of medication and to help cover medical bills. Other fundraisers are planned.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

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

Almost a year later, the city is finally repairing the crosswalk at Cedar Springs and Reagan

crosswalk

As you can see above, when I drove by this morning at about 10:30, a city crew was working on the crosswalk at Cedar Springs and Reagan Street, which has been busted since sometime early this year. Last time the city repaired the crosswalk, to the tune of about $5,000, a crew came along a few weeks later and mistakenly cut the wires running to the lights during an emergency water repair. The city subsequently announced that it would no longer be repairing the crosswalk because it was too expensive, which naturally pissed off nearby business owners. Then, shortly after a Dallas Voice story on the subject, the city had a change of heart and said it would fix the crosswalk after all. And now that this is finally happening, perhaps it would be appropriate to remind folks that just because those lights are flashing, it doesn’t mean motorists are going to stop.

—  John Wright