By Rich Pollack
In its efforts to improve visibility of crosswalks along State Road A1A, Highland Beach is going red.
Taking a page out of Delray Beach’s playbook, Highland Beach officials hope to repave the eight crosswalks within town limits with textured asphalt that would then be painted brick red.
If all goes well, the inside of the crosswalks will include white Thermoseal striping, with white Thermoseal borders on the north and south sides of the walkways.
“Everything we’re doing is designed to increase visibility,” Town Manager Marshall Labadie said.
Highland Beach is modeling the improvements after those Delray Beach made at several intersections — including some along A1A — that caught the eye of town officials.
The restriping and repaving of the crosswalks is part of Highland Beach’s multi-pronged effort to improve crosswalk safety.
For years residents, concerned that vehicles are not stopping when pedestrians are in the A1A crosswalks, have been pushing the town to take steps to improve visibility.
“All I’ve wanted was an effective system that will stop cars when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk,” said resident John Boden, who has been leading the effort.
Because A1A is a state road and falls under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation, getting the green light to make improvements has required the OK of state officials, which has slowed the process.
Now it seems efforts are moving at a quicker pace.
An engineering study has been completed and preliminary approval for the projects has been granted by state officials.
Late last month, Highland Beach sent out a request for bids for construction of several crosswalk improvements.
• The two-toned pavement markings.
• New signage with pedestrian-activated rapid flashing lights.
• Embedded lighting in the crosswalks that will also be pedestrian-activated.
Labadie said the bids will be opened in early February and work on some pieces of the project could begin as early as March.
Funding for the project is estimated to be around $400,000, with the town having budgeted only about $200,000.
While the state’s Department of Transportation has said it will not help with the funding, town officials have enlisted the aid of state Rep. Mike Caruso, R-Delray Beach, and state Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Boca Raton, and are hoping to get about $200,000 directly allocated by the Legislature.
Two bills — one that would include funding for crosswalk improvements and another that would help the town pay for drainage improvements — are winding their way through the Legislature.
To further improve pedestrian visibility and make crosswalks safer, Highland Beach last year unveiled crosswalk flags at a test location in the south end of town.
Those flags have received a positive reaction from residents, and have since been added to the crosswalk near the Regency Highland condominium, Labadie said.