HBPW, Abel's contributing to cover project's cost

The Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) and Abel's Oil Company are combining to cover the cost of purchasing and installing new crosswalk lights for Maple Avenue, next to Holy Family School.

Edie Price, Department of Public Works management assistant, reported to the City Council during its July 3 meeting that Abel's was making a donation of $2,500 to the crossing-light project. She added that the remainder of the estimated $15,000 expense will be covered by the HBPW, which included the project's cost in its 2018-19 fiscal year budget which started July 1.

"For about the past three years we have been budgeting $15,000 a year to replace stoplights on Broadway," said Heath Hall, general manager of the HBPW. "That's about how much one intersection costs to replace the control cabinet and the lights. Instead of doing that (replacing lights at an intersection) we're proposing doing the school crossing."

The HBPW became involved in the crossing-light project at the city's request.

"The Department of Public Works asked us about installing some crossing lights there next to Holy Family School," explained Hall. "We were already going to do some stoplights in the area, so we started talking about re-prioritizing and using that money for the school-crossing lights."

Earlier this week the Council approved the installation of crossing lights on Maple Avenue. While an installation date was not provided it is anticipated the work will be completed before the start of the upcoming school year.

The possibility of installing crossing lights on Maple Avenue, which students must cross in order to reach a school playground, was proposed during an April meeting between the city's Traffic Committee and representatives of Holy Family School.

In choosing to install crossing lights at the meeting the Traffic Committee scrapped a plan adopted in late 2017 that would have seen gates installed at multiple spots along Maple Avenue, next to the school. The vulnerability of the gates to being damaged by vehicles was a key reason for the change of plans.

Instead of buying new crosswalk lights a suggestion was raised that would have seen similar lights already in use on Broadway Extension, between South Hawkins Avenue and Lamb Avenue, transplanted to Maple Avenue. However, that idea was discarded after it was discovered that a handful of students who attend Mark Twain Elementary School live south of Broadway Extension and could possibly still be using the crosswalk lights to cross the busy street safely on the way to and from school.

The city's safety efforts around Holy Family School will not stop with the installation of crossing lights, which will look like regular traffic signals but can be activated to go red at the push of a button. Signage is planned on Church Street, a westbound one-way thoroughfare, in an effort to inform motorists that they are entering a school zone, particularly those intending to turn on to Maple Avenue.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com