HAVERHILL — The city has installed a traffic and pedestrian safety measure called a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon at one its busiest and most dangerous intersections, Mayor James Fiorentini announced.
The solar-powered flashing beacon, called an RRFB for short, was recently put in place at the crosswalk at the intersection of Main Street and 5th Avenue — the scene of several automobile accidents and one pedestrian fatality in recent years, the mayor said. This stretch of Main Street averages about 20,000 vehicles per day.
The two flashing beacons, on both sides of the road in front of Dudley Plaza, are activated by pedestrians. They feature blinking yellow lights designed to alert drivers that the crosswalk is in use.
The mayor said the installation of these kinds of flashing lights is relatively new to the city.
The Main Street and 5th Avenue safety measure is the second flashing crosswalk in the city. The other is at the intersection of Water Street and Bethany Avenue next to the Central Plaza, which abuts several senior housing complexes.
John Theos, 77, a resident of Merrivista, said he often crosses Bethany Avenue to shop at Central Plaza and that the addition of the flashing beacons helps, but that some drivers still ignore the warning.
“It’s better than they had before, which was nothing, but sometimes I press the button and drivers ignore the flashing lights,” he said. “But I think it is making drivers more aware of when someone is crossing.”
The Main Street safety device was recommended by the city’s Traffic and Safety Committee, a group tasked by the mayor to study the intersection and make recommendations to improve safety there. The device costs $18,000 and was paid for with reserve funds, also referred to as the city’s rainy day fund.
Fiorentini said the city also recently added and upgraded street lights along Main Street and in other parts of the city to improve visibility at busy intersections.
“We took an in-depth look at the Main Street and 5th Avenue intersection to see what could be done to make it safer and better,” Fiorentini said. “Further up Main Street, near the Oxford Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, we put in a streetlight to make that area brighter. And with our complete streets program, we’re looking at what we can do to slow traffic.”