Watertown councilman proposes colorful crosswalks

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WATERTOWN — Councilman Mark C. Walczyk wants to put some color into the city’s crosswalks.

Councilman Walczyk proposes painting city crosswalks bright colors to make them more visible to protect pedestrians from getting hit.

He noticed that the city of Oswego painted some of its crosswalks a bright orange when he and other city folks visited there to find out how that city’s $10 million downtown grant was used.

He wants the city’s Engineering Office to look into it to see whether it’s a good idea. Other cities paint their crosswalks different colors, as well, the councilman said.

“It really makes the crosswalks stand out so much,” he said.

“Yeah, I’d like to see it tried out, out there.”

His suggestion comes at a time when the city is reviewing how its Complete Streets is working out since it was implemented about a year ago.

The goal of the Complete Streets policy is to make all city streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, disabled people and everyone else who uses them.

In response to his colleague’s idea, Councilman Cody J. Horbacz suggested painting crosswalks purple and white along Washington Street, near the city school district complex, to symbolize the school’s colors.

The city used standards in the Complete Streets policy when several changes were made to the school zone last fall to make it safer for students crossing the busy street to get and from the city’s school complex on Washington Street.

City Engineer Justin L. Wood said he will look how much it would cost and what kind of paint would be used on the crosswalks.

The city repaints the crosswalk’s white striping annually.

“You can use your imagination and try any color,” Mr. Wood said, adding that the state Department of Transportation would probably have to sign off on the proposed colorful look.

To achieve a red brick look, a thermal plastic was melded into the asphalt on crosswalks along Factory Street during a $13.5 million reconstruction project last year.

The Complete Streets policy also was used to make improvements to West Main Street and are planned for the Western Boulevard connector road that will run through Stateway Plaza.

The changes along the school zone on Washington Street are working, Mr. Wood said. The street was narrowed from four lanes to two, along with a number of other changes.

The city is waiting to see if a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon light is needed in that area to warn motorists about students crossing the street, Mr. Wood said.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. believes the city’s Complete Streets program has been good for Watertown.

“I think there’s been a lot of good results from it and there will be a lot more good results from it,” he said.

Bicycle lanes, more and improved sidewalks, handicapped curb ramps and planting street trees are some of the improvements under the Complete Streets program completed during the past year.

City officials also are looking at making improvements at a crosswalk in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse complex on Arsenal Street, the site of several pedestrian/vehicle accidents in recent years.

By the Numbers

The accomplishments of Watertown’s Complete Streets program:

■ 3,650 linear feet of new or repaired sidewalks

■ 31 new or repaired curb ramps along city streets

■ 6 crosswalk and intersection improvements

■ 1.25 total miles of new bike lanes

■ 122 street trees planted

■ 7 traffic-calming features installed

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