By Dave Russell
Sylva’s mission to improve crosswalk safety got a boost at the Oct. 24 town board meeting. By unanimous vote, the board directed Public Works Director Jake Scott to purchase signs to mark the pedestrian crossings at Innovation Brewing, Jones Country Store and Evalina Street.
The signs are 3 foot by 3 foot diamond shaped, with a border of LED lights around them.
They will cost the town about $1,930 each, plus tax and freight, Scott said.
Solar panels perched atop the signs will charge a battery that should keep them flashing all night. The signs are free-standing and can be moved if needed, Scott said.
Options for West Main Street’s crosswalks are limited because it is an N.C. Department of Transportation road.
“There are some signage options that DOT is actively encouraging right now,” Scott said. “But they’re not willing to do a cost-share.”
The town budgeted $8,500 for crosswalk safety last year, but did not use the funds. A plan to use an adhesive brick pattern to mark the crosswalks fell through because the asphalt is too old for it to adhere properly. The money was put back into the fund balance.
A permanent radar sign similar to the flashing warning sign currently in place on West Main Street would run about $4,100, Scott said.
Safety at the crosswalk at Evalina Street would be improved when the town moves it west to the other side of the intersection, Scott said.
“No amount of signage is going to make up for poor driving or distracted driving,” Scott said. “The most recent incident (Sept. 30) was in broad daylight. Nobody was inebriated or anything like that.”
Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton brought up radar-equipped signs that would flash a blue strobe light when speeding cars pass.
“The community I worked in before had one of those signs, and I have watched a whole lot of traffic slow down because it immediately triggers ‘blue light’ in your head,” he said.
Board member David Nestler said that while he likes the current radar-equipped speeding sign downtown, a sign of that type does not let drivers know there is a crosswalk ahead.