15th Street still vacant of crosswalks

Lori Allen/The News Si Chen, professor of computer sciences, crosses 15th Street.
Lori Allen/The News Si Chen, professor of computer sciences, crosses 15th Street.

Lori Allen/The News
Si Chen, professor of computer sciences, crosses 15th Street.

Following the summer repaving and refurbishment of 15th Street between Olive and Main streets, inclement weather continues to delay the placement of crosswalks on this section of road.

Ron Allbritten, street superintendent of Murray, said typically it would not take this long after a street had been resurfaced for crosswalks to be added.

He said the street department is waiting for hired contractors to finish their work on the road, but because of the recent rain and snow this work has been unable to be completed.

“(The contractors) have about three more good days of work to finish over there and then, once they finish, we’ll come in and actually put the markings and everything else that needs to be there,” he said.

All Allbritten and his crew have remaining to do is actually place the thermal plastics used for the markings and signage of the crosswalk as well as installing some truncated domes used to aid the visually impaired.

The installation of these domes and construction of concrete islands to limit the distance pedestrians have to walk between sides are part of new required standards mandated in 2013 by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Allbritten said on top of these compliances complicating the project, the city also took the time to conduct an engineering study to determine where crosswalks should be placed, which also has stalled their actual placement.

“When you put one crosswalk in you’re telling everyone that this is the safest place to cross,” he said. “We need to know why that’s the safest place to cross and really is it.”

He said his department observed 15th Street for several years prior to beginning their resurfacing and that it had been approximately 20 years since the street was last repaved. The work being done on 15th Street mirrors prior, similar efforts made to improve 14th Street.

Allbritten said the previous crosswalks on 15th Street had visibility issues both concerning pedestrians’ ability to see oncoming motorist and motorists’ ability to see pedestrians walking out from between parked cars.

Calynda Hinkle, sophomore from Breckinridge, Ky., said without the crosswalks, the cars don’t slow down or look for pedestrians crossing the street so she has to run in order to cross without being hit.

Matt Mattingly, city administrator, said it is unfortunate that the crosswalks haven’t been able to be replaced in a timelier manner, but the delays aren’t without good reason.

“Not only are we going to rectify the problem, but we are approving the safety of pedestrians,” Mattingly said. “I wish our timing had been a bit better on having the engineering study done, but we recognized that we have a potential public safety issue.”

Alex Englen, junior from Fort Campbell, Ky., said as a student living off campus she parks frequently in the parking lot behind the Burrito Shack and has to cross 15th Street to get to class.

She said it is an inconvenience if you do want to cross at a crosswalk because you have to walk away from your classes, past the parking lot.

“It’s always on my mind that you have to beware of where you’re walking because there aren’t enough crosswalks,” Englen said. “If you want to cross without a crosswalk you have to stand on the sidewalk and wait to make sure the cars see you before you cross.”

Allbritten said crosswalks have not been shown to make crossing streets safer, but sometimes actually have the opposite effect.

Barring any further weather delays, Allbritten said the crosswalks should be installed by the end of this month.

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor