The city of Marysville is installing a HAWK signal over a new crosswalk on Fourth Street. (Herald photo)

New signal on Fourth Street will stop traffic for crosswalk

Like a lot of drivers in Marysville, Jacque Knight quickly noticed the new traffic signal going up on Fourth Street next to Asbery Athletic Field. “Because the six traffic lights in the less than two-mile stretch of road between my house and the freeway just wasn’t congested enough?”

This one is a little bit different, though.

Black — not green — means “go” for drivers approaching the HAWK signal, the city’s first. HAWK is an acronym for “high-intensity activated crosswalk.”

The signal is technically a pedestrian beacon. Pedestrians push a button, like at other crosswalks. The real difference is for drivers.

A series of flashing and solid yellow and red lights alert drivers to pedestrians waiting and actively crossing the street. In addition to ditching the green light, the lights are arranged in a “T” shape, rather than the more familiar vertical pattern.

Here is what the different combinations of lights will mean for drivers:

Dark signal: No action required; no pedestrian activity.

Flashing yellow: Drivers should start slowing; a pedestrian has pressed the crosswalk signal and is waiting for the walk sign.

Solid yellow: Drivers should start stopping; signal is about to change to red and give pedestrian the walk sign.

Solid red: All vehicles are required to stop to allow pedestrians to cross.

Flashing red: Drivers may proceed one at a time if crosswalk is clear of pedestrians.

Dark signal: The signal then goes back to dark until a pedestrian pushes the crosswalk button again.

City crews plan to activate the signal in mid-April.

Fourth Street is one of the city’s most heavily traveled streets. The new crosswalk will make it safer for pedestrians — often students — to get between downtown, Totem Middle School, Community Transit bus stops and the athletic field, city spokeswoman Connie Mennie said.

Similar signals are on Puget Park Drive near the Mill Creek YMCA, on South Machias Road near Centennial Middle School in Snohomish, and on Highway 104 near the Edmonds ferry lanes and City Park.

The city of Marysville is doing the work, with guidance from the Washington State Department of Transportation since it falls on a state highway (Highway 528).

A federal grant covers 95 percent of project’s $251,000 price tag.

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