HAILEY, Idaho (PRESS RELEASE) - By adapting an existing technology in a new way, Idaho Transportation Department officials gave pedestrians a 10-second head-start when crossing the street near the Hailey Post Office at Idaho 75 and Airport Way.

The new leading pedestrian interval (LPI) is a good example of "working smarter" — a simple idea that increases safety at the intersection.

As with many safety improvements, installation of an LPI to the signal at the intersection started with a couple complaints about pedestrian safety from members of the public as well as observations from city staff. The issue was traffic turning left onto Idaho 75 (Main Street) could not see or would not yield to crossing pedestrians, resulting in numerous close-calls and a few minor incidents. The new LPI signal culminates three years of planning and coordination.

Several options to improve the situation for pedestrians were investigated including adding a phase for left-turning traffic, but this option would have required costly widening and possibly a right-of-way purchase. The clear choice for the location was the LPI system.

Initial investigation by ITD south-central (District 4) Idaho Signal Shop Technician Rob Robbins, followed by an early attempt to add the LPI to the aging signal, yielded undesirable results – the older system couldn’t facilitate the necessary software to install the LPI. Plans then shifted to implementing changes as part of the signal-upgrade project this year.

With new equipment for the signal upgrade project, Robbins and District Four Electricians Walter Gallon and Robin Hite were able to make the change.

“It is the first of its kind on the state highway system,” said Bruce Christensen, D4 traffic engineer.  “It does seem to have significantly improved pedestrian safety without expensive right-of-way purchases or other negative impacts needed to add left-turn phasing.

“It is unusual to address left-turn vehicle/pedestrian conflicts with an LPI, but initial implementation and testing went better than expected,” Christensen said, adding that the LPI is typically applied for right-turn lanes.

The LPI was installed with other upgrades to the signal controller and realignment of the detection systems June 13. Members of local law enforcement and the city of Hailey were present during the initial testing and helped with programming.

“Initial feedback from the public and Hailey city officials has been positive,” Christensen said.  He added Hailey officials will monitor the local reaction and operation of the LPI and provide feedback about its timing.

ITD District 4 Electrician Robin Hite, Signal Shop Technician Rob Robbins, Electrician Walter Gallon.

The installation is part of a $541,000 signal-upgrade project under contract with Balanced Rock Electric, of Twin Falls, to work on 22 signals throughout the Magic and Wood River valleys.