New West Des Moines Crosswalk Causes Confusion for Drivers

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- A pedestrian crosswalk in West Des Moines is causing some confusion for its users.

City traffic engineers recently installed the "HAWK" pedestrian beacon. It stands for "high intensity activated cross walk". The signal is placed at the intersection of south 50th and Wistful Vista Drive.

So, what's different?  It does not have a green light.  Instead it flashes yellow and red and remains unlit until pedestrians have pushed the button to walk across the street.

The new road rules have confused some drivers on when they can pass through the intersection.

“The people right behind you are looking at you wondering what you are stopping for? They don’t know it’s a flashing light up here. So, it’s going to take time for them to get adjusted,” says motorist Jerome Haynes Sr.

In effort to clear up any confusion, crews put up informational signs on how to use the intersection within the intersection. Despite all that, engineers say this is the safest way for pedestrians to cross the street.

“With a higher volume location, this road went from a two-way road to a five-lane road. It increased the width. Now takes the pedestrian longer to get across the street. You have to have longer gaps and time in between the vehicles.”

The method is also a cheaper alternative to standard stopping signals. The HAWK beacon system costs anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 compared to a regular stoplight which costs upwards of $250,000.

The city says there has not been any recent pedestrian accidents at the intersection. This is the city’s second HAWK beacon installation. It says it plans to install more in the future.