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Sarasota County staff has recommended the use of delineators in crosswalks. Photo by Rachel Brown Hackney.
Siesta Key Thursday, Mar. 8, 2012 5 years ago

County to consider crosswalk options

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson has told the Siesta Key Association that she plans to ask her fellow board members March 13 to decide what measures to pursue to improve crosswalk lighting in Siesta Village.

County staff provided the County Commission three options in a Feb. 21 report. The staff recommendation, Patterson told the SKA during its March 1 meeting, was to re-stripe the crosswalks with reflective material and to put in delineators, or paddles, which are 12 inches by 36 inches, warning drivers to be alert for pedestrians.

The delineators are similar to those the Florida Department of Transportation had proposed in one of its crosswalk options for a 1.2-mile stretch of Midnight Pass Road, Patterson pointed out.

“They’re effective,” she added of the delineators, “(but) I don’t thing they’re terrifically attractive.”

Her preference, she said, would be the installation of bollards, though they are more expensive. However, Patterson said, “I don’t know that every crosswalk necessarily has a lighting (problem).”

SKA board member Ron Flynn pointed out, “Bollards light up pedestrians in the crosswalk, as opposed to lighting the crosswalk.”

SKA Vice President Peter van Roekens had brought up the issue of poor crosswalk lighting during the Jan. 3 meeting of the Village Association, noting that drivers — especially older ones — have difficulty seeing pedestrians in some of the crosswalks.

During the SKVA meeting March 6, van Roekens said he was not satisfied with the suggestion for just the re-striping and the delineators.

His preference, he said, would be the installation of bollards. “That’s the real key,” he said, “because the lighting is very bad” in the Village at night.

“I think we need to continue to press for the bollard lighting,” he added.

Mark Smith, president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, pointed out during the SKVA meeting, “The problem is that when you face oncoming headlights, even driving at a slow speed, you’re actually blinded by the headlights, and it’s hard to see people walking in the crosswalks.”

Van Roekens and several SKVA representatives, including President Russell Matthes and Smith, met Jan. 17 in the Village with Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations in the county’s Public Works Department, to discuss the situation. Maroney has been overseeing Village maintenance and improvement matters since mid-August.

The resulting staff report notes the Village crosswalks are marked with reflective thermoplastic striping and raised pavement markers, both of which are designed to reflect the headlights of approaching vehicles. “Typically,” the report says, “thermoplastic striping has a lifespan of five to seven years; however, this can vary depending on a variety of factors, including quality of installation, traffic volumes and environmental factors.”

The Village striping has been in place four years, the report adds. “Based on recent inspections,” the report says, “the thermoplastic is in such a condition as to warrant re-striping as routine maintenance.” The cost was estimated at $6,200.

Staff also looked at the possibility of installing delineators, or plastic paddles, which could be mounted in the centers of the crosswalks, to provide additional illumination of pedestrians. “The signs fold over at the base if hit by a vehicle,” the report notes.

Although the delineators are not provided as a standard service, the report says, the county could purchase them and install them, with the cost covered by existing operations and maintenance funds. The cost of the delineators was estimated at $500.

The third option for the crosswalks, the report says, is the installation of bollards, or short posts, which could be placed at pedestrian access points.

Bollards typically are used to increase the visibility of pedestrians and crosswalks, the report says.

However, it adds, “Due to the ambient light in the Village from signs, restaurants and storefronts, bollards may not provide enhanced crosswalk and pedestrian lighting.”

Additionally, the report says, the installation of the bollards “would require a disruption of the sidewalks, brick pavers and possibly crosswalks and the roadway and would require funding for design and construction.”

A funding source would have to be identified to cover the estimated $9,350 cost of installing 10 bollards, the report adds.

Lighting Options
After analyzing the visibility of Siesta Village crosswalks at night, the Sarasota County Public Works Department issued a report with the following options for improvements:

• New thermoplastic striping. The current striping “has been in place for four years and is in need of replacement,” the report says. The cost of re-striping was estimated at $6,200.

• Crosswalk delineators. The 12-inch-by-36-inch plastic markers can be mounted on the pavement in the middle of crosswalks to provide additional visibility. The lightweight signs, the report says, are covered in diamond-grade reflective material. The cost would be about $500.

• Bollard lighting. Bollards, which “are short posts mounted to prevent vehicles from encroaching upon pedestrian areas, such as trails, sidewalks, mid-block pedestrian islands or (Americans with Disability Act-approved) ramps,” typically are used in dark or low-light areas, the report says. They usually are mounted at the opposite ends of a crosswalk, at pedestrian-access points. The report adds that 10 bollards would cost about $9,350, not including construction costs.

County staff recommends the County Commission approve the re-striping of the crosswalks and stop bars for traffic in Siesta Village, as well as the installation of four delineators at three locations.

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