A new HAWK soars in Edmonds

By Mike Allende

Hawk fever is winding down in the Puget Sound area until next season, but in Edmonds a new kind of HAWK is drawing attention, and drivers should be prepared.
On Wednesday, Feb. 4, we will activate the first HAWK traffic signal on a state highway in Snohomish or King counties when a new pedestrian crosswalk goes into operation on State Route 104 near Pine Street next to City Park. It will be located where the pedestrian trail leads out of the west side of the park to SR 104.

A what signal?
It’s called a HAWK signal, and not just in homage to our favorite football team. It stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK, and it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. Because while it works the same as other crosswalks for pedestrians and cyclists – press the button and wait for the walk signal – it’s not something that most drivers have encountered.

Drivers will have clear notice when pedestrians and cyclists wish to cross busy SR 104 near Edmonds City Park, which sees heavy commuter and ferry traffic.
Here’s how it works:
  • Dark signal: When there is no pedestrian activity at the crosswalk, the signal will appear dark as though it is turned off.
  • Flashing yellow signal: When a pedestrian presses the crosswalk button, the signal will have a flashing yellow light warning drivers that a pedestrian wishes to cross and drivers should start slowing.
  • Solid yellow signal: This alerts drivers to begin stopping because the signal is about to change to red.
  • Solid red: All vehicles are required to stop to allow pedestrians to cross.
  • Flashing red: Flashing red signals mean drivers may proceed through the crosswalk one at a time after stopping to verify the crosswalk is clear of pedestrians.
  • Dark signal: The signal will then go back to dark until the crosswalk button is pushed again.

Get it? If not, here’s a handy guide (pdf 414 kb) that explains it, and this animation should help. You can also watch the following video to learn more about how the HAWK traffic signal works.

Drivers should also be ready for a speed limit reduction as it will go from 40 mph to 35 mph on SR 104 between Dayton Street and Paradise Lane, approaching the new crosswalk from both directions. This will also help vehicles slow down as they get near the area.

A new signalized crosswalk on SR 104 in Edmonds will give pedestrians and cyclists safer access between Point Edwards
and Edmonds City Park and downtown Edmonds.
And as with any intersection, pedestrians and cyclists should take care to be sure that the 58-foot-long crosswalk is safe to enter before crossing.

We recognize that this crosswalk represents a change for drivers on SR 104 and will take some getting used to. We’re planning on having some extra signage leading up to the crosswalk on both sides of the highway for a while to prepare drivers for the change.

This area sees heavy commuter and ferry traffic and we chose this unique signal to give drivers an extra notice – the red light – to stop for pedestrians and cyclists, providing them with a safer, controlled way across SR 104 to City Park and downtown Edmonds. The project was financed through a grant from the WSDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program with additional funding from the City of Edmonds.