Driving a car is the most common way to get around Midwest City. But city leaders are making sure it’s not the only way.
The city is improving the safety and viability of pedestrian traffic through its Pedestrian Signal Project. The multi-phase program includes adding new crosswalks and upgrades to existing signals.
Earlier this year, the city added two enhanced crossing systems, called HAWK signals, on Reno Avenue near Joe B. Barnes Regional Park, and on Post Road near SE 10th Street.
The HAWK system, short for High Intensity Activated Crosswalk, makes it easier for pedestrians to cross a busy street. It also minimizes traffic delays because it only operates when a pedestrian activates it. The pedestrian crossings are typically placed along a busy street that is not signaled.
As part of the project, the city also upgraded several existing pedestrian crossings to make them more functional and ADA compliant. The improvements included; leveling the crosswalk platforms, adding ramps, replacing buttons, and audio components that allow pedestrians who are visually impaired to locate and use the crossings.
Midwest City is looking to move forward with phase two of the project, if federal safety funding is available. The Association of Central Governments administers and allocates federal dollars for Midwest City and other metro municipalities. City staff requested $520,000 for the second phase of the project.
Menefee said they expect to hear back from ACOG at the end of the year. If funding is available, the project could move forward early next year.
The second phase will include new HAWK signals on N. Midwest Boulevard and Country Club Terrace, and NE 10th Street near Willow Brook Elementary School.
Menefee said the city will also continue to upgrade existing crosswalks. The city has about 50 crosswalks that are not ADA compliant. Menefee expects they could upgrade about 15 as part of phase two.
“The intent is to bring all of the pedestrian crossing signals up to code, and we’re doing them in batches,” Menfee said. “We did 14 the first time and probably 15 this time. We also do them as part of road projects, so we’re moving along.”
The HAWK signals were not well received by some residents and drivers, who were not used to stopping in the middle of the block.
“Once people are familiar with the crossings then we would like them to tell us where they think they would be best suited,” he said.