The crosswalk where a KP teen was struck last Christmas Eve will be upgraded this summer. Photo by Lisa Bryan, KP News

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) plans to install a pedestrian activated Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) to improve pedestrian safety at the crosswalk on SR-302 and 97th Avenue NW this summer, according to Rep. Jesse Young (R-26th).

This is the same crosswalk where Key Peninsula resident Chad Stark, 14, was struck and seriously injured by a van shortly after 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2015.

“I’ve driven those roads enough to know that when you’re going past those crosswalks, you don’t notice those flashing lights, they become part of the background,” Young said. “But the actuated lights are coming, and I’ve been informed by WSDOT they’ll be in by the end of August.”

The crosswalk over the highway includes two flashing warning lights alerting drivers to the presence of the crosswalk. Steve Kim, regional traffic safety engineer for WSDOT, said the new RRFB “is an enhanced crosswalk technology that lights up and really grabs a driver’s attention when actuated by pedestrians.”

RRFBs are user-actuated amber LEDs that supplement warning signs at uncontrolled intersections or mid block crosswalks, such as the crosswalk in front of the Key Peninsula Fire Department headquarters in Key Center.

The Key Peninsula Community Council (KPC), longtime proponents of traffic safety on SR-302, made improving visibility at the Harvest Time crosswalk their top priority for 2016. “Representative Jesse Young was very helpful in arranging a visit from WSDOT personnel to our April 13 council meeting,” said Chuck West, KPC president.

“We listened to the serious safety concerns expressed during that community meeting and went back to our office determined to find a solution that might be implemented relatively soon,” Kim said.

Glencove resident Jerry Lampert was among the first motorists on the scene of the accident last Christmas Eve. He said he was “sickened at the sight of this young body collapsed in the crosswalk directly in front of the van that struck him. I knew in that moment I had to do something to advocate for the safety of our children on this treacherous stretch of highway.”

Lampert ultimately “reached out to Representative Jesse Young for help.” Young sits on the House Transportation Committee. He and Lampert attended a preliminary meeting at the WSDOT Maintenance Office in Port Orchard with Superintendent Duke Stryker, who is responsible for maintenance on SR-302, and later attended the KPC meeting in April.

Claudia Bingham Baker, WSDOT communication manager for the Olympic region, said, “Federal transportation guidelines help WSDOT make decisions to balance the need to protect public safety, while providing vital transportation of goods, services and people. Funding is always the biggest hurdle, but we were able to meet the challenge this time.”

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