City To Pilot All-Way Pedestrian Crossing At State & Jackson / Launch Traffic Safety Campaign

May 31, 2013

New Crosswalks Allows Pedestrians to Cross to All Corners

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today launched a test of an “all-way” pedestrian crossing at the downtown intersection of State Street and Jackson Boulevard, which allows pedestrians to cross to any corner – including through the intersection – during a special traffic signal phase that stops all vehicular traffic.

“This new all-way crossing will improve the pedestrian environment and vehicular timing at this very busy downtown intersection,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “Chicagoans and visitors will be able to cross on foot more quickly and safely while all vehicular traffic is stopped. This is part of our strategy to eliminate as many conflicts as possible for everyone's safety and enhanced vehicle throughput as well; a win-win."

The intersection of State and Jackson is a popular crossing location on all four crosswalks.  On a typical weekday, twice as many pedestrians (41,600) cross the intersection as vehicles (20,500).   DePaul University’s Loop Campus and John Marshall Law School have buildings on either side.  In addition, many pedestrians go through this intersection as part of their daily commutes to and from Union Station and CTA trains.

"The changes to this intersection will help thousands of pedestrians safely cross the street and help traffic flow through a  busy portion of Loop. Due to businesses and schools nearby, this intersection is always busy and this pilot may help in reducing congestion and conflicts,” said Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

As part of the all-way crossing configuration, new continental crosswalks have been striped  on all four corners.  New diagonal crosswalks through the middle of the intersection allow pedestrians to cross to any corner during the special traffic signal phase.  Vehicles will be prohibited from making turns.  State Street is a two-way street running north and south, while Jackson is an eastbound one-way street.  

The CTA’s northbound #151 Sheridan route, which had traveled east on Jackson to State, then north to Washington Street, will now turn north on Dearborn Street. The #151 returns to its normal route at Washington, headed east to Michigan Avenue.  The #130 Museum campus’ eastbound routes will be altered to operate via Jackson, Clark, and Congress, then resume their current route on State. Westbound #130 service will not be affected.

CDOT will conduct a test of this pedestrian improvement project for several months, and will make the improvements permanent if the pilot proves to be successful.  The all-way crossing is also known as a “pedestrian scramble” or “Barnes Dance,” named for traffic engineer Henry Barnes, who pioneered the all-way crossing in Denver, Colorado,. Baltimore Md, and New York City during the 1940s to 1960’s.  

During the all-way crossing phase, all vehicles including bicycles will be stopped for 35 seconds.  The signal cycle has been timed to maximize synchronization with traffic signals on adjacent intersections.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications will deploy Traffic Control Aides (TCAs) to help pedestrians cross the intersection with the new signals. 

Each year, more than 3,000 people are hit by vehicles in Chicago.  In 2012, 48 pedestrians were killed in car crashes, according to Chicago Police Department.  Many of these collisions are preventable by obeying simple traffic laws.

Be Safe, Be Alert” is a citywide traffic safety campaign by CDOT that urges drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to follow traffic laws, pay attention, and create a safer city.  Klein announced that CDOT would continue the campaign this summer by placing the following awareness items:

  • “LOOK” stickers in taxis in partnership with BACP to remind passengers to look for bicyclists before opening their doors into traffic.  The stickers will also be placed in all CDOT fleet vehicles.
  • “Be Safe Be Alert” sidewalk stickers to remind pedestrians to look both ways before crossing.  The stickers will be placed at high crash locations and along popular pedestrian corridors. The 300 new stickers will be added to the 100 placed on corners last year.
  • CTA bus and train in-car advertisements reminding drivers and cyclists to be safe and be alert.
  • The safety campaign follows the "Tips for Motorists" that was distributed to registered vehicle owners with their renewal notices by the City Clerk’s office .

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