Highway Department to Propose Broadway Pedestrian Beacon Signs

The Derry Highway Department will consider budgeting for the installation of up to three LED Pedestrian Beacon signs for crucial crosswalks on Route 102/ Broadway, after a discussion with the Highway Safety Committee.

Alan Cote, Superintendent of Operations, presented the concept, which has also been supported and researched by Planning Board Vice-Chair John O’Connor.

The beacons are pedestrian-activated and warn motorists that a pedestrian is about to cross the street.

Over the years, various Downtown Committees and residents have advocated for safer crossings on Broadway, including from the Opera House and the area of the Santander Bank.

The beacons would allow pedestrians to cross safely without the necessity of putting up another traffic light, which would impede the flow of traffic, Department of Public Works Director Michael Fowler said in an interview last week.

Cote said he has done some research on the price and the company he looked at, Ocean State Signal of Smithfield, R,I., offers the solar-powered crosswalk system at $7,900 each. That doesn’t include the concrete foundation, Cote said.

“We’re looking at $15,000 to $20,000 by the time we’re done,” he said.

Cote made a field trip to Durham to observe that town’s use of the beacons.

“My only concern,” he said, “is that I see a couple of locations on Broadway where this would make sense. But it wouldn’t make sense on South Main Street or Crystal Avenue.” If the project snowballed to other streets, he said, the cost could also snowball to “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

And he warned that continual illumination could have the reverse of the effect wanted. “It becomes background scenery,” he said. “It’s human nature.”

Committee chair Scott Savard, looking to the future, asked if the committee should look for areas where beacons and other warnings should be placed, and be more proactive.

Cote said “yes” but added, “Not all crosswalks are created equal.”

But, he said, the pedestrian beacons would be part of the budget discussion for 2016-17.