Innovative crosswalks designed for pedestrian safety

7:45 PM, Sep 26, 2012   |    comments
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Edina crosswalk marked with inlaid thermoplastic
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  • MINNEAPOLIS - Communities across the Twin Cities are trying out innovative crosswalk designs, as part of a broader effort to protect pedestrians from vehicles.

    In the west metro suburb of Edina, for instance, a geometric pattern that includes green highlights graces a crossing near Creek Valley Elementary.

    "it's part of our Living Streets initiative, where we're trying to get people out walking and biking more, and encouraging parents to have their kids walk to school," Wayne Houle, Edina City Engineer and Public Works Director, told KARE.

    "These types of crossings will hopefully get the attention of drivers, and remind them that students and other pedestrians are out here."

    The designs at that intersection weren't painted on the pavement, the way traditional crosswalks were marked. The patterns are made of pieces of inlaid thermoplastic, that are pressed into the asphalt surface.

    "They imprint the pattern by heating the asphalt and stamping it with a template," Houle explained. "Once they pull off the template they melt the colored material right into the pavement, so it lasts seven to nine years."

    In the case of that intersection Edina used a product marketed by a Twin Cities company known as Decopavement, which offers a variety of pavement marking options to communities looking to enhance their crossings.

    Houle said the new technology costs at least $5,000 more per intersection, compared to normal crossing markers.

    "But in Minnesota those traditional crosswalks have to be repainted often, so over time it's pretty much a wash cost wise"

    The City of Brooklyn Center installed geometric designs made of thermoplastic in crosswalks for several intersections along Bass Lake Road.  They were all four lanes in each direction, compared to the two-lane streets near the school in Edina.

    Steve Lillehaug, the public works director in that city, told KARE he's hoping to get a lot of life out of the new materials.

    "When these were installed in 2010 the price was $13.74 per square foot, which amounted to about $50,000 per intersection," he said.

    "Life expectancy for the different marking options can be and is highly variable, dependent on many factors."

    He said traditional epoxy paint is rated to last five years in this climate. Lillehaug said another alternative to thermoplastic is known poly-preformed plastic, which comes in standard sizes and can be less expensive depending on the size of the project.

    It's important to note that all Minnesota intersections are considered crosswalks, a point being emphasized in the Share The Road campaign launched this week by Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety and Minnesota Dept. of Transportation.

    "Every corner in the state of Minnesota is considered a cross walk, whether it's marked or unmarked," Sue Groth, the State Traffic Engineer, told KARE.

    "And all drivers are required to stop for pedestrians while they're in crosswalks trying to cross the street. Of course pedestrians need to respect the signs and signals as well, and keep their eyes open for vehicles." 

    (Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, reprinted or rewritten.)

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