Laguna Canyon getting light at college site

Following complaints about pedestrian safety on Laguna Canyon Road, Caltrans is planning to install a traffic signal in front of Laguna College of Art + Design.

The signal system would replace the current flashing yellow light on the road outside the college's main campus, California Transporation Department spokesman David Richardson said.

Caltrans is footing the bill for the project but the exact cost has not been determined, Richardson said.

"There's a safety concern at this part of the road," college President Jonathan Burke said. "It's not just our students, but this is where the bus stops on the other side."

Burke and a nearby building owner urged Caltrans earlier this year to install a signal, citing concerns about the danger to pedestrians.

The road currently has markers embedded in the asphalt that flash when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk. Caltrans' traffic, operations and engineering group have suggested installing the HAWK pedestrian crossing system, according to Richardson.

According to a description provided by St. Cloud, Minn., which has the system, it uses yellow and red lights and lighted displays of a person walking and a hand to guide drivers and pedestrians.

After a pedestrian presses a button, the traffic light flashes yellow to let motorists know the signal will soon turn red.

Once the light turns red, the display of a walking person lights up, along with the clock that ticks off the seconds, signaling to the pedestrian that it is OK to cross the street. The walking person switches to the flashing hand sign after the pedestrian has had time to cross.

At the same time, red lights start flashing to alert drivers that they may proceed provided the pedestrian has made it across the street.

Once the clock turns to zero, the raised hand signal lights up and the traffic lights turn off.

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