051019_RNT_Crosswalks1

Plans to improve crosswalk safety in downtown Rome include adding signs to the decorative posts on the building side of the traffic lanes and installing attention-getting lights to alert drivers to pedestrians crossing.

The mid-block crosswalks in downtown Rome are slated to get another makeover in an attempt to make them safer for pedestrians.

Aaron Carroll, director of engineering services, said the Downtown Development Authority is especially concerned about the 200, 300 and 400 blocks.

Drivers are supposed to stop for people using the crosswalks, but they can miss movement due to delivery vans stopped in the inside lane to unload. There’s also the need to keep an eye on the row of parked cars, for someone backing out.

“We need to frame the crossing,” Carroll told members of the city’s public works committee.

There already are yellow crossing signs posted in the median between the double lanes of traffic. Carroll said crews will be installing a second one at each crosswalk, on the decorative lampposts along the sidewalk.

The main thrust, however, is to add lights to catch drivers’ attention. Carroll said edge-lit signs, such as the ones near State Mutual Stadium, work well at night but are not very visible in daylight.

Plans are to test out RRFBs — rectangular rapid flashing beacons — which emit a slow strobe light. Pedestrians would be able to press a button to activate the light before they cross.

Carroll said Dalton recently installed one in a busy area and “it really jumps out at you.”

The down side is that the bright lights might bother other people on Broad Street, such as tenants in the loft apartments or diners at sidewalk cafes. The vendor is offering a 90-day trial.

“We’re going to try 30 days in each block and see what kind of complaints we get,” Carroll said. “There’s got to be a balance.”

Target months are June, July and August. The trial RRFBs are solar-powered, but Carroll said Rome’s tree canopy would likely make that undependable for the long term.

If the test is a success, the crossings would need electricity extended to power the lights.