A Hellertown resident has requested that the borough install an audible pedestrian signal at the intersection of Main and Water streets, borough manager Cathy Kichline told borough council Nov. 19.
Audible pedestrian signals emit chirps, beeps or spoken recorded messages that can assist visually impaired pedestrians with crossing a street.
Kichline said it's estimated that installing spoken-word signals at the busy downtown intersection would cost about $5,000.
It would also require the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) consent, since Main Street is a state road.
In fact, the intersection of Main and Water streets was recently upgraded with new pedestrian safety features, including ramps, crosswalks and visual signals.
Since PennDOT was involved with the process, councilman Tom Rieger questioned whether installing an additional pedestrian safety feature could "open up a worm's nest" in terms of compliance with state regulations.
Council solictor Michael Corriere advised him that "you never know with PennDOT," and recommended that council "talk to them first."
Although council vice president John Bate questioned the fundamental need for the signal, Kichline said the man who requested it typically crosses at the intersection two or three times per week.
Council president Phil Weber said he had mixed feelings about the request.
"Everybody has the right to cross the street, but I do think it’s a lot of money to put out when we’re hurting for money," he said.
Weber also predicted that "if we (install the audible signal) at one intersection, you know that sooner or later somebody’s going to ask about other intersections."
In light of the projected cost, several council members suggested that the borough seek any available grant funding that might pay for the project.
Bryan Smith, the borough's engineer, said staff at Barry Isett and Associates would handle that request.
A vote to approve a motion supporting a search for grant funding passed 6-1, with Bate voting 'no.'