Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Crossing University now a numbers game

In early August, the city of Denver installed a new pedestrian countdown system at the University Boulevard at Evans Avenue intersection to tell people exactly how many seconds remain before the light changes.

As before, the system flashes a white walking symbol to announce that it’s safe to cross the street. After about 14 seconds, the white symbol changes to a flashing orange hand to suggest that it’s too late to begin walking.

The new timer system adds large numbers that count down from 14 seconds when crossing University and 16 seconds when crossing Evans. When the count reaches zero, the orange hand turns solid and the light for motorists changes.

The system is intended to discourage pedestrians from starting into the intersection when there isn’t enough time to cross. It’s part of an ongoing city program that began two years ago to put the countdown timers at some of the 1,250 traffic signals in the city of Denver. The Evans and University intersection was chosen because of its high pedestrian and traffic counts, says Reynaldo Ornelas (BSEE ’99) of the traffic engineering section of Denver Public Works.

The cost averages about $5,000 per intersection, and timers have been installed at 61 locations so far. Ornelas says the city hopes to install about 50 each year.

Other intersections in the vicinity of DU that are slated to get countdown timers sometime next year include: University Boulevard at Iliff, Warren and Asbury avenues; University at Buchtel Boulevard; Evans Avenue at High Street and Buchtel at High.

[Editor’s note: Reynaldo Ornelas’ degree information was added Aug. 15.]

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