"HAWK" System for walkers launching in Tonawanda

Posted at 11:55 PM, Jun 20, 2016

The Town of Tonawanda is making it easier for pedestrians to cross busy streets in a safer manner.

The town is implementing a new traffic control device, known as the "high-intensity activated crosswalk", or HAWK, beacon. This light will have two red lenses above one yellow lens. The one installed on Sheridan Drive is the first of its kind in all of New York State.

"It kind of sticks out like a sore thumb," said Nicholas Bado, Lieutenant for the Town of Tonawanda. "It's something no one has ever seen before so people are concerned with compliance... are people going to know what to do or are pedestrians going to be more at risk using it?"

Joseph Emminger, the Tonawanda Town Supervisor says education is key.

"We have gone on our website, on our homepage have information and we demonstrate the HAWK beacon signal," explained Emminger. "How it is used, and how the public can use it and what they should be looking for when it comes up."

Pedestrians who tend to bike and walk around the area think this unknown traffic system is for the best.

"It looks like it will help," said Lee Bath, who loves to walk around the area. "This is a terrible street to cross. I cross it a lot because I walk every once in a while."

"If they provide a safer crosswalk for us, I definitely think they should be everywhere," said Dion Brown, a bicyclist in the area.

"It takes a while to cross," said Andrew Fromm, who was riding his bicycle with friends. "One time it took almost five minutes to get across. We had to wait for just the right time to be able to make it across without any cars."

Lieutenant Bado agrees this will be a successful signal to implement, especially for pedestrians.

"For the last forty years, roadways have been developed specifically for cars," said Bado. "It has squeezed out the pedestrians and caused it to be more dangerous."

Officials from the area already consider it a success.

"People are already using the trail," said Emminger. "It has been an overwhelming success and it hasn't even been open yet! We are excited for the town and the county is excited about it. We can't wait for it to be open officially."

More of these lights will be installed in the Kenmore and Village of Williamsville areas.

For more information, go to the Town's website.