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Wave a flag for safety in Millcreek intersections

Wednesday, January 09, 20131929 views

The safety of pedestrians in busy intersections often depends on their visibility and Salt Lake County has started a pilot program in Millcreek to make sure motorists notice the crosswalks and can clearly see when they’re in use.

“I’ve always gotten two or three calls every year from citizens concerned about their intersections,” said county Public Works Operations Associate Director M. Leon Berrett.

The new program is modeled after Salt Lake City’s crosswalk flag program and involves installing flags and holders on both sides of the street for pedestrians to display while crossing the street.

“Some people might feel conspicuous with the flags, but that’s really the point I think: being conspicuous,” Berrett said.

Millcreek’s former council representative Jani Iwamoto supports the new progam and expects that the younger school children especially enjoy waving the brightly colored flags over their heads as they cross the street.

“The students get used to doing safety measures for themselves... I’ve seen the kids using them on 2300 East. It’s a busy street,” Iwamoto said.

The county is using four busy intersections in Millcreek to kick off the program: two on 2300 East and two on 3900 South.

“If these are successful, we’ll add flag holders at intersections where sponsors will take responsibility for the flags,” Berrett said.

At the beginning of the school year, the flag holders were installed at two intersections on 2300 East, one at 3000 South near Rosecrest Elementary and another at Claybourne Avenue (2780 South) closer to the I-80 access ramp.

Two other flag holders have been installed on 3900 South near Morningside Elementary, Skyline High School and Wasatch Jr. High School. One flag holder is at 3100 East and another is at Birch Drive (3300 East).

Initially, the flag system was used to control pedestrian traffic during a construction project on 2300 East, based partly on requests from residents.

“It worked well enough that we thought ‘Why not put a more permanent system in place?’” Berrett said.

Like the Salt Lake City program, the county’s program will rely on local sponsors, either individuals or organizations, to service the flag supplies at the intersections.

“We need a responsible party to adopt the crosswalk and take responsibility if they see flags are missing. Who else is better than people who actually live there to keep track of things?” Berrett said.

The county Operations Division will follow an approval and implementation process that includes formal requests for flags, review of traffic and pedestrian counts and flag holder installations with an initial supply of flags.

“We won’t be putting them at every intersection all over the valley, just doing it on an as-needed and as-requested basis,” Berrett said.

Each intersection will have a local sponsor, which could be a business, a PTA group, a school or even an individual. If the flags disappear, the sponsor will purchase replacements from the county.

Although the price for replacement flags has not been set yet, it is expected to be small and the costs will be waived when the sponsor is a school.

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