safety updates

A vehicle-pedestrian accident last month sparked a citizens’ committee to seek safety updates on Hailey’s Main Street.

About a dozen people gathered at the corner of Maple and Main streets in Hailey Thursday morning to study the location of a tragedy. Their goal: To make sure nothing like it happens again.

On March 26, a man died by suicide after striking a pedestrian with his car on the south crosswalk at the street corner. The pedestrian survived. Now, the incident could lead to greater pedestrian safety on Main Street.

A group made up of city officials, an Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) official, a Mountain Rides and Idaho Smart Growth representative, the Idaho Walk/Bike Alliance and others called the meeting to share thoughts on what could be done to avoid such tragedies in the future.

The street corner is located on a Main Street curve that has reduced northbound driver visibility of the southeast corner due to new construction of senior housing at the old Blaine Manor site.

Hailey Public Works Director Brian Yeager said he was there to listen.

“I want to see what comes up, observe and provide feedback to ITD and Mountain Rides,” Yeager said.

Yeager said in an interview that the death of a pedestrian in a crosswalk a few blocks north at Bullion Street in 2009 led to the use of flashing lights at that street corner, and several others, but the corner of Maple and Main could use some changes to make it safer. The city is in communication with ITD about installing more flashing crosswalks on Main Street, he said, but he is not sure more would be allowed.

“The Idaho Transportation Department is trying to limit the number of flashing beacons,” he said.

Yeager said crosswalk striping changes could provide an alternative. He suggested removing the crosswalk striping across the south end of the intersection to focus pedestrian use on the north end crosswalk, which provides more driver visibility.

Reducing the amount of crosswalk street striping could increase its effectiveness, he said, because painted lines on streets are distracting to drivers.

“If there is too much striping it desensitizes drivers,” Yeager said. “More is not necessarily better.”

The citizens group eventually moved northward to examine other pedestrian and cyclist safety options on Main Street, part of state Highway 75, which runs through the entire Wood River Valley. The group had plans to meet in Ketchum and Sun Valley later in the day.

Yeager said the Hailey City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, May 10, to review the information.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com