Christopher Wallin wasn’t about to walk away from a free crosswalk. The city engineer just had to find a place where one brand new crosswalk wouldn’t look out of place. Most busy intersections use two or four crosswalks, but traffic safety company Ennis-Flint was offering only one.
So after talking it over with area officials, Wallin found the perfect spot. The crosswalk behind Proctors connecting the Metroplex parking garage with Stratton Plaza would be the perfect test location for the thermoplastic walkway.
“It’s a mid-block crossing,” said Wallin. “It’s a high-pedestrian, high-visibility area where right now there is an old painted crosswalk.”
The free, brand new crosswalk benefits everyone.
Ennis-Flint had recently finished development on a more efficient thermoplastic crosswalk product and needed test locations to point to in a few years as a success. The company has worked with Schenectady before, and reached out with its latest offer.
Pedestrians and motorists also benefit. Thermoplastic pavement markings are more reflective, slip resistant and durable than standard crosswalk markings — meaning fewer accidents and less wear and tear.
Finally, it benefits the city. A longer lifespan won’t require as many replacements.
A 150-millimeter thick thermoplastic crosswalk went in Thursday, and will be used as a sort of pilot experiment to determine whether to use the material at other crossings in the city.
“The people around downtown who saw it thought it was extremely bright, colorful and inviting,” said Wallin. “It’s something that motorists are going to notice over something that was just white on pavement before, and that increases safety.”
Thermoplastic costs more than paint, but manufacturers point out that it’s cost-effective in the long run, especially on rough pavement surfaces.
Wallin said Schenectady currently uses three styles of crosswalk.
The majority are also the cheapest: basic white-painted lines. Other crosswalks in high-traffic areas downtown and in some neighborhood corridors are stamped asphalt.
They look like red brick, but are actually made by pressing a metal template into hot, pliable asphalt. The red coat of paint is applied afterwards.
Ennis-Flint put in one of its original thermoplastic products at the intersection of Van Vranken Avenue and Nott Street several years ago to test it out. Over the years, though, they simplified the installation process and brought the cost down.
The new crosswalk behind Proctors replaced a worn stamped asphalt one that had become a tripping hazard, said Wallin.
Normally, one such crosswalk would cost about $9,000.
State Department of Transportation officials will examine the work at the end of the winter season, and let Wallin know what they think.
“This was the kind of gift that the city welcomed in and that we worked together on,” he said. “We know it would be the most effective material, but we don’t necessarily have anything earmarked in the future. We just wanted to take advantage of it while we could.”