Trojan horse was also a gift

By Linda Bentley | November 11 2009

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crosswalk presentaion
The pedestrian crosswalk and flasher designed by Parsons Brinkerhoff for Tom Darlington Drive and Ridgeview Place, although approved, was not necessarily embraced by council. The project was approved with Councilman Bob Coady dissenting and the hope imbedded lights are on ADOT’s approved product list to replace the flasher and sign design pictured.                         Photo by Linda Bentley

‘The odds in Arizona, when a driver sees a flashing yellow light,
he’ll probably drive through it’

CAREFREE – Council voted 6-1 on Wednesday, with Councilman Bob Coady dissenting, to approve the design of a pedestrian crosswalk and flasher at Tom Darlington Drive and Ridgeview Place to be built with a portion of the $588,000 American Recovery and Reimbursement Act funds (federal stimulus funds allocated to the town by Maricopa Association of Governments).

According Scott Omer from Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB), the design is 90 percent complete and should be ready to submit to ADOT on Nov. 12.

The crosswalk presented to council incorporates a push-button activated, solar-powered flasher 175 feet from the crosswalk to alert vehicles to pedestrians crossing.

Councilman Doug Stavoe commented, “We were told we would see options. This is an option,” and said he didn’t believe the design appeared to be in the character of the town.

Omer stated, “This is not the actual design, but we have to deal with ADOT. The point I need to stress is we have time constraints.”

“We agreed we were going to see some options,” said Stavoe.

Councilman Peter Koteas noted the flasher is 175 feet away and gives pedestrians a false sense of security that a vehicle is going to stop, while they are unable to tell if the flasher is even working since it’s facing the opposite direction.

Councilman Bob Gemmill asked, “Why couldn’t imbedded lights be installed? It wouldn’t be so intrusive.”

Omer said he would have to ask ADOT if that is on its approved product list. He also pointed out, in the state of Arizona, anywhere there’s a crosswalk pedestrians have the right of way.
Coady asked, “Are you telling us this is what we have to accept? Does the flasher have to be located where it’s shown?”

According to Omer, the location of the flasher with respect to the crosswalk is established by the manufacturer.

During public comment, Dick Stewart said he heard many excellent comments and concluded, “You don’t have enough information. We’ve gone four years without a crosswalk” and urged council to wait, even though it would mean the town would have to pay for the improvements without stimulus money.

Melissa Price said, “I feel it is a very difficult safety issue. We’ve been waiting four years,” and recommended the town “take the money and run,” and look at revisions later.

Jim Peirce stated, “The odds in Arizona, when a driver sees a flashing yellow light, he’ll probably drive through it,” adding, “Generally, when you press a button, a light turns red and stops traffic. I suggest you take a hard look.”

Gemmill noted, “Right now there is no crosswalk.”

bob coadyDirecting his question to Town Attorney Tom Chenal, Coady asked, “If we install this and the light malfunctions and someone gets hurt, do we have liability?”

Chenal said the town would only have liability if it was negligent in the maintenance of the equipment.

Coady stated, “I’m upset about this.”

Mayor David Schwan said, “I’ve been involved with roads since I’ve been on council,” and stated the town needed to “listen to the engineers,” who were the professionals that designed the project and “not impose our amateur opinions.”

“Second,” Schwan said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Coady reminded the mayor the Trojan horse was also a gift.

Gemmill said, “Every merchant in Carefree has been waiting for this to be done over the last five years,” adding this was an opportunity and council needed to “go with it.”

Koteas reiterated his concern was the safety of the pedestrian.

Stavoe said he believed the crosswalk was needed and moved to approve the crosswalk but that PB check if imbedded lights were on ADOT’s approved list.