Pedestrian traffic lights working as expected
The pedestrian traffic lights installed in mid July at five points along Highway 98 in Destin have, for the most part, lived up to city officials’ expectations.
The lights — installed at Chick-Fil-A, Big Kahuna’s, AJ’s, Marler Street and Melvin Street — were intended to help the ever increasing pedestrian traffic trying to cross the highway.
“From what we’ve seen so far, it appears to be working the way it was planned to and we hope to see great success next season with parking on the north side and (pedestrians) being able to safely cross Highway 98,” said Destin City Manager Carisse LeJeune.
The lights work by synchronizing with the vehicle traffic lights to create a break in traffic to allow pedestrians to cross. The lights stay green for about 60 seconds as pedestrians cross.
“I am hoping that when we get into the next season, we’re going to see a tremendous difference,” LeJeune said. “Our goal is to eventually provide additional parking for our residents and citizens along the north side of Harbor Boulevard.”
However, the crosswalk at Big Kahuna's has run into a problem. Destin resident Mike Maloney said he is disappointed in how the crosswalk collects water and debris.
"It is full of dirty brown water, leaves and dead grass," Maloney said in an email to The Log. "The problem is that it is not graded properly and retains the water from rain and the irrigation sprinkles. In its current condition, the crosswalk is unusable and needs to be removed and replaced with proper grading."
Destin Public Information Manager Doug Rainer said FDOT is working to fix the issue.
"The DOT consultant is aware of the issue and is working to correct it," Rainer said.
According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, there have not been any pedestrian-related accidents on the 3.5-mile stretch of U.S. 98 where at the lights since they were installed.
About 18 percent of all 617 incidents in that stretch of highway between 2007 and 2013 involved pedestrians.