A new flashing-light crosswalk across Hall Street is meant to help middle- and high school students at Thomas More Prep-Marian and at USD 489’s O’Loughlin Elementary School.

The crosswalk near 17th Street has a push-button-activated, solar-powered flashing light and a pedestrian sign meant to alert drivers.

The flashing crosswalk was installed recently when city workers already were on Hall painting the street with new striping and directional markers.

“I think it turned out really nice,” TMP Principal Chad Meitner said of the crosswalk, noting that it will serve not only the two schools, but also residents in the neighborhood who cross Hall to reach the biking path on the dike.

“This will make it a lot safer,” Meitner said.

The crosswalk’s flashers activate when a pedestrian waiting in the crosswalk pushes a button. Once the pedestrian crosses, cars can proceed on down the street without waiting for the flashers to stop, said City of Hays project manager John Braun.

“Motorists by law are required to stop for pedestrians whether there is a light or not,” Braun said. “Once the pedestrian is clear of the crosswalk, cars can proceed, even if the light is still flashing. You don’t have to stop for the flashing yellow light, but if someone is waiting to cross or attempting to cross, you have to stop. The light only draws attention to the pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

The crosswalk is the culmination of several years of discussion, including a study a couple years ago by engineers for the Kansas Department of Transportation. They looked at traffic patterns and pedestrian walking patterns and recommended various solutions, ranging from economical to costly.

“Their engineers took a look at it and felt it warranted a pedestrian crossing and they recommended the flashing beacons,” said Braun.

City employees put in the Americans with Disabilities Act ramps, painted the markings and installed the warning beacons.

Meitner thanked the Hays City Commission for the new crosswalk stoplight at its June 27 meeting.

“I just simply want to give a ‘thank you’ to the city, most notably the person I had the most contact with at the city was John Braun,” said Meitner, adding, “it works great and we’re excited that not only our students, but even the folks who use the campus for walking their dogs or jogging or for whatever reason can now cross there. It’s a great thing. Thank you.”