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Mon, June 17

Pedestrians push for safer crosswalk at Gurley/Summit

The Daily Courier/Jo. L. Keener
The crosswalk at Gurley and Summit streets is a challenge for pedestrians because of the wide street and volume of traffic. A petition is circulating seeking a traffic signal for the intersection.

The Daily Courier/Jo. L. Keener The crosswalk at Gurley and Summit streets is a challenge for pedestrians because of the wide street and volume of traffic. A petition is circulating seeking a traffic signal for the intersection.

PRESCOTT - The location of the crosswalk - with Catholic Charities on one side, and the Open Door organization on the other - makes the Gurley Street/Summit Avenue intersection a magnet for pedestrians.

Dozens of people regularly make their way across the downtown-area street intersection, which also is the home to a number of small businesses, as well as Sharlot Hall Museum.

And many of those pedestrians apparently feel unsafe while crossing the wide street. Nearly 500 recently signed a petition, urging the City of Prescott to install a traffic signal at the intersection for safer passage by pedestrians.

Sandra Parker, who presented the petitions to the Prescott City Council earlier this month, maintains that a number of factors make the Gurley/Summit intersection treacherous.

"That corner is especially dangerous," said Parker, who notes that the street attracts "fast traffic and drivers who don't slow down."

A 15-year resident of the area, Parker is a long-time observer of the corner, and she likens Friday evening traffic to "race-time."

Parker Anderson, an employee of Catholic Charities, agrees that circumstances make the corner unique.

"Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, it's the most dangerous intersection in town that doesn't have a light," Anderson said. And of the proposal to install a traffic signal, he added: "I think it's a matter of public safety, not convenience."

While the crosswalk is not far from the Gurley/Grove traffic signal, observers say that does little to slow down traffic. In fact, after making fast left turns onto Gurley from Grove, drivers often continue to accelerate down the hill toward downtown, they say.

And because Gurley is especially wide at Summit, Prescott Alternative Transportation Director Lisa Barnes notes that pedestrians face a bit of a trek in order to beat the fast-moving traffic.

"It is a just a daunting prospect to cross such a wide street," Barnes said.

Even so, city officials say the traffic statistics at Gurley/Summit do not show the need for a new traffic signal.

In response to the petition seeking a traffic signal, Engineering Services Director Mark Nietupski noted that the city evaluated the intersection.

"The study indicated that (the intersection) didn't meet warrants for a signal," Nietupski said, referring to the traffic-volume and other statistics that go into determining the need for a new signal.

For instance, the study showed that on a recent April weekday, 27 pedestrians used the crosswalk during the highest peak hour of 10 to 11 a.m.

"This number is well below the required 190 users which are required to warrant the signal based on pedestrian volume," stated the city study.

In addition, the study noted: "Collision records indicate that no crash problem exists at the location. Since January 2006, there has been one collision involving a pedestrian."

In conclusion, the study stated: "The intersection does not meet any single warrant criteria for either a traditional or pedestrian-activated traffic signal at this time."

But that does not rule out other options. Nietupski said subsequent discussions have brought up the possibility of measures such as a median that would provide a mid-street shelter for pedestrians, or flashing lights to alert drivers to the existence of the crosswalk.

Nietupski said he expects the matter to go back to the City Council within the month for further consideration.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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