City to test warning lights at one crosswalk

OPH rockOAK PARK HEIGHTS — The city will install an advanced warning light system as a test at one intersection, but will not place similar systems near Stillwater Area High School and Boutwells Landing.

The Oak Park Heights City Council Tuesday unanimously agreed with a Park Commission conclusion to install advanced warning flashers at 55th Street and Oakgreen Avenue and also asked that signs warning motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk be installed at the site.

The council also agreed with Park Commission conclusions to not install the advanced warning system near SAHS since the 58th Street and Neal Avenue intersection has a traffic signal and crosswalk, and on 58th Street at Boutwells Landing because there is a tunnel from the staff parking lot to the facility.

City Administrator Eric Johnson said the Park Commission considered advanced warning flashers at the three locations at its June 17 meeting, about two months after the council referred the issue to the panel.

City Police Chief Brian DeRosier wrote in an April 18 memo that he “would hedge on the true effectiveness of such equipment.”

“There is some concern that with this type of equipment pedestrians may feel a heightened sense of safety or ‘rights’ that might not realistically be provided, and as such not take precautions they should,” DeRosier writes.

But DeRosier and the Park Commission both feel the 55th Street-Oakgreen Avenue intersection would be an effective location for the advanced warning flasher system.

“They felt that was a viable  thing to consider,” Johnson said about the commission’s decision.

“I think this is a good place to try it,” said Councilman Mike Runk, referring to 55th Street and Oakgreen Avenue. “If it proves successful, there are other places in the city we could try it. I would like to see us move forward on this.”

“I want to see better signs out warning people they have to stop for people in the crosswalk,” added Councilman Mark Swenson.

Johnson said installing the warning system at 55th Street and Oakgreen Avenue would cost an estimated $10,000 to $11,000. He added that the city has received one price of more than $7,800 from a local company.

“I would speculate that we could get this done for under $11,000,” he said. “If you could get another quote, that would be best.”

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]