Motorists on Old US-12 might have seen members of the city’s electric department — Jeff Burns, Scott Adams, Mike Galarowic and Andrew Domke — working on the two new “rectangular rapid flashing beacons” near Silver Maples Drive Monday afternoon.
Now motorists need to change their driving habits and begin looking for those flashing yellow lights – they mean there’s a pedestrian who plans to cross the road taking advantage of the new walking paths and boardwalk in the area.
And, although the new state law says motorists must yield to pedestrians in the right of way and in the adjacent crosswalk, Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth warns pedestrians that this does not mean cars will stop.
Especially with the 45 mph speed limit in the area – so walkers should be sure there are no cars coming in either direction before stepping out into the road in the painted crosswalk, he said.
“The vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection,” and here’s the full law.
“The crossing beacon along Old US 12 and adjacent to Silver Maples Drive, marks the successful conclusion of a two-year, multi-agency project emphasizing the health and well-being of our citizens,” said Chelsea Mayor Jason Lindauer.
The sidewalk and boardwalk project came to pass thanks to an about $225,000 grant from the Washtenaw County Department of Parks and Recreation.
“For the first time, dedicated walk-ways, cross-walks, signage and signals allow people to literally walk from one end of Chelsea to the other, all the while enjoying our beautiful city and its natural surroundings,” Lindauer said.
It’s something new for motorists traveling on this busy road, and the new beacons in Chelsea flash yellow, but do not turn red — like the one at the bottom of the hill near the YMCA in Ann Arbor.
“This is not a traffic signal,” said City Engineer Christine Linfield, “It’s a caution for drivers that draws attention to a pedestrian crossing the road.”
So here’s how it works. Walkers push the button and the beacon flashes yellow to let drivers know they are there.
“But this is no guarantee that motorists will stop,” Toth said.
Brad Roberts, utility director, said the new solar-powered beacons on Old US-12 are part of the city’s energy optimization program.
“The City of Chelsea Public Works and Electric Department team and the Washtenaw County Department of Parks & Recreation did a magnificent job throughout the scope of this project, bringing it in on budget and ahead of schedule,” Lindauer said, adding, “This walkway will be truly enjoyed for generations in our city.”
Coy Vaugh, deputy director of Washtenaw County Parks called it “a successful collaboration with the City of Chelsea that addresses several objectives of our Connecting Communities program. This new trail segment connects residential areas with popular destinations, including: a school, Pierce Lake Golf Course and Park, The Chelsea Wellness Center, and retail along M-52 and downtown.”