City of Puyallup announcement.
The Puyallup Loop Trail is a four-mile wonder, wandering through old-growth trees, streams, a community garden, and historic neighborhoods. For the most part, the trail has been Puyallup’s little secret for many years. But in recent years, word has gotten out. It is not uncommon to see visitors and locals enjoying this hiking trail.
To enhance pedestrian and vehicular safety, the city will be installing a crosswalk at one of the busy streets along the trail, 15th St SW. Starting in the first quarter of 2023, the City will advertise for a contractor to construct a new crosswalk with enhanced features that make it safer for walkers, runners, and drivers. Construction is anticipated to begin in March or April and be done in time for summer use of the trail.
A Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) is one of these safety features. An RRFB is an enhancement to a cross-walk sign that flashes yellow to indicate that a pedestrian is crossing a road. Pedestrians press the button on the sign pole, which activates the yellow flashers to signal to drivers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, this feature can reduce pedestrian crashes by 47 percent. And it improves motorist yielding rates by as much as 98 percent, making it a very effective pedestrian safety tool. They are particularly effective on roads with 40 mph and under posted speed limits.
“15th St SW is a collector road, which is designed to move traffic from a local street to an arterial road,” says Hans Hunger, City Engineer. “With that in mind, we want to design the crosswalk to work with human nature. When you add elements to a crosswalk, such as an RRFB, your natural instinct as a driver when you see these features is to slow down. That is the goal of the crosswalk…designing it to make the street safe for pedestrians to enjoy the loop trail.”
Project Engineer Lance Hollingsworth says that the crosswalk will be located mid-block, which can pose some challenges during the design phase of the project. Unlike a traditional crosswalk, which is located at intersections, mid-block crosswalks need to have additional safety features that protect pedestrians and drivers. The City has a mid-block crossing policy, which requires additional safety features such as curb extensions to be incorporated into the final design. Curb extensions, also commonly referred to as “bulb-outs,” extend the sidewalk or curb line out into the street, effectively reducing the street width. When the street narrows, it reduces the pedestrian crossing distance and also improves drivers’ ability to see people crossing.
“They are a good traffic calming strategy, especially mid-block where drivers tend to speed up rather than slow down,” says Hollingsworth. “Right now, we’re finishing the in-house design, and then we should be ready to go out to bid in early 2023. By March, we should be moving into the construction phase.”
The cost to install the crosswalk is just over $100,000 and will come out of our Parks Capital Improvement budget because the trail is considered part of the Park system. As a cost savings measure, the City is designing the project in-house as opposed to utilizing a consultant. Staff plan to bid out the project in January, with an expected construction in Spring 2023. Future plans are also in the works to install a second crosswalk at 14th St SW, another difficult crossing point for hikers.
“We’re also going to install a sidewalk along the south side of 23rd St SW between 13th & 17th St. SW, which is another important connection point for the loop trail. That project will use street capital improvement funds as part of our sidewalk link program, which serves to connect missing sidewalk links in our City. These are projects that people can instantly get behind because they get to enjoy them firsthand.”
To learn more about the 15th St SW Cross Walk Project, please contact Hans Hunger at email@example.com.