City officials have completed a series of updates and installations along the Crosstown meant to improve motorist and pedestrian safety in the busy, and sometimes fatal, stretch.
The City of Charleston’s Department of Traffic and Transportation has installed new pedestrian signals at the intersection of Coming Street and the walking-unfriendly Crosstown, officially named the Septima P. Clark Parkway.
Pedestrians crossing the Coming Street intersection will be instructed to walk to the median and wait for another “walk” signal before heading over to the other side.
The Crosstown has been the subject of scrutiny after a pedestrian was killed while trying to cross the eight-lane artery on April 5. The man was walking outside of a crosswalk and had disobeyed a traffic signal, according to the Post & Courier.
The Crosstown has claimed five pedestrian lives since 2013, according to Charleston Police Department spokesperson Charles Francis.
The city has also installed an “advanced” walk signal at the Ashley Avenue and President Street intersections. Pedestrians will now get “several seconds” to cross the street free of parallel traffic, according to a Wednesday morning press release. “No turn on red” signs have been posted at the two intersections.
“In addition to these pedestrian signal improvements, new signage has been installed directing citizens to the pedestrian bridge access on Todd Street and another pedestrian bridge access point was created, which can be accessed directly from the parkway,” according to the city.
Eight pedestrians were killed in vehicle-related deaths city-wide in 2017, according to Francis. That number is up from just two pedestrian deaths in 2016.
A hundred and sixty-one pedestrians were struck by vehicles and recorded as having either an “incapacitating injury,” “no injury,” “non-incapacitating injury,” or a “possible injury” in 2017. That’s up from 146 such pedestrians in 2016.
The Crosstown, like many things in Charleston, has a legacy of pain and displacement for the city’s African-American community.
“As happened elsewhere, the Crosstown bisected historic black mixed income neighborhoods in the city, severing longstanding community connections and creating a highway too dangerous for pedestrians,” according to a College of Charleston website commemorating Septima P. Clark, the Charleston-born civil rights and education activist.
“Ensuring efficient traffic flow and safety for all modes of transportation remains a top priority, and we will continue to examine ways to ease congestion and facilitate safe travel for our citizens,” said city Traffic and Transportation Director Keith Benjamin in a statement. “In the meantime, we encourage both motorists and pedestrians to exercise additional caution while adjusting to these most recent Septima Clark Parkway pedestrian crossing changes.”
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