Council Discusses 'Talking' Crossing Signal

Hellertown Borough Manager Cathy Kichline announced Nov. 19 that a resident has requested an audible pedestrian signal be installed at the intersection of Main and Water streets.

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.'


Gerry Kranz December 01, 2012 at 01:24 PM
What an absolute waste of money. Because ONE person cannot do something, the residents are asked to foot the bill? And the council used the stall tactic of "looking for grant money" to avoid saying no the first time. If the person cannot see enough to just walk around, then they need to stay where they are safe, like a fenced in yard.
Mister Y December 01, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Wow I couldnt have thought up a more closed-minded obtuse thing to say!!! Yes, lets lock down all disabled persons so that they cannot have the freedoms that others take for granted- yes good idea...Lets imprison them, throw them into camps....oh, wait that has been tried a few times already, didn't work out very well for the organizers....especially the guy in Germany from about 1937 to 1945.......
Josh Popichak (Editor) December 01, 2012 at 02:37 PM
@Gerry - Regardless of whether you think the request has merit, I'm pretty sure council has to consider the ramifications of this type of request in light of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which exists (at least in part) to help prevent discrimination against disabled persons. Fundamentally, the act exists so disabled persons can enjoy many of the same freedoms many able people take for granted--and I personally think that's a noble idea. Also, even though only one person made the request, that's not to say only one person would benefit from such a signal.
charles hampton December 01, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Do you mean, like a dog, Gerry?
Melody Smith December 01, 2012 at 02:59 PM
It should be considered as the majority of our town is elderly.. I am sure there are a few who need help seeing and would benefit from it. Because it was brought to attention by 1 person does bet mean more would benefit from it. I would like to think that we value all lives in Hellertown including those disabled and I would like to say everyone has a right to leave their fenced in yards it is still America
Angela Pozza December 01, 2012 at 05:56 PM
it should also be considered that we are LAYING OFF police officers and public works personnel due to a budget shortage... yet we can spend money on this? doesn't seem to make sense.
Lower Saucon Brother December 02, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Just a thought... did they ever consider installing the small flashing lights in the crosswalk roadway at a few of the major (most used) cw's like they have in Macungie and on Elizabeth ave. by the college? Don't know the cost but the problem seems to be more that drivers don't see or respect pedestrians in crosswalks. you can't miss those lights, where if a driver has their stereo cranked up, the audible signal is worthless
Lower Saucon Brother December 02, 2012 at 01:30 PM
And since it would be in the road, maybe Pendot would have to pay for some of it?
Michele Gubish December 02, 2012 at 02:12 PM
@LSB - It was quite a few years ago that I mentioned the same thing to council in no formal way but in a passing conversation., In fact a local funeral business owner was interested in that idea as well. Nothing came of it, but I agree that seems much more cost effective at the main crosswalks. ..
Lower Saucon Resident December 04, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Lower Saucon Resident: The nerve of you people not wanting to make the roads a safer place in Hellertown. Since the exit for Rt 78 came into play it is a nightmare just to cross Main St anywhere in Hellertown. Cars do not STOP for sighted people crossing the road. Drivers can bearly make a left hand turn across Main St. because NO ONE STOPS. I hope that Gerry Kranz never becomes handicap in anyway because maybe the family will have to put he or she in a room and lock the door and throw away the key.
Henry December 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Henry,Bethlehem Township I think you need the help,seems your head is on the wrong end.
Henry December 06, 2012 at 03:10 PM
If we must have handycap curbs on all corners,and we don't know if anyone uses them (ADA ) Then why not help when we know a blind person lives there?


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