The ubiquitous orange flags will be relegated to less dangerous crossings.---
With the introduction of the HAWK system in Salt Lake City, many (or, at least, me) have wondered about the future for the beloved (at least by me) orange flags. Well, rest easy -- they will remain vigilant protectors of Salt Lake pedestrians. They just won't do it on the really dangerous or kind-of dangerous intersections.
According to Lisa Harrison-Smith, spokesperson for Mayor Ralph Becker, the flags will "still be utilized when there aren't other resources." In other words, smaller roads where drivers tend to go more slowly anyway, such as downtown.
The HAWK system is in place and working, although the planned unveiling last Friday was canceled because the weather would have limited the opportunity for TV stations to get the money shot of Becker crossing the road. In short, the system is a traffic light that forces drivers to stop at the crossing when somebody pushes a button to use the crosswalk (red light, stop!) and then proceed if the crossing is clear (flashing red).
There will be five HAWK lights along 1300 East, between 600 South and 2100 South. Each light costs $80,000, which is about half the price of a full-blown traffic signal. While it may seem outlandish to spend $400,000 on new crossing lights at a time when the city is facing serious budget troubles, Harrison-Smith said the money was actually approved two years ago and comes from funds that can only be used for traffic improvements.
other busy intersections where HAWK lights are not installed, the city
will try to install other, less expensive alert systems. The final
option will be to deploy the orange flags.