Fairfax Co. installs new pedestrian-powered crosswalk aimed at improving safety

The new HAWK traffic signal in Springfield, Virginia, was installed as part of a project that included sidewalk improvements. HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The new HAWK traffic signal in Springfield, Virginia, was installed as part of a project that included sidewalk improvements. HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Fairfax County joins jurisdictions region-wide that began using HAWK pedestria-oriented traffic signals as early as 2009. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fairfax County joins jurisdictions regionwide that began using HAWK pedestrian-oriented traffic signals as early as 2009. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Virginia Delegate Vivian Watts (39th District), looks on as Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee District) is presented a plaque by Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny noting the installation of the county's first HAWK pedestrian-oriented traffic signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Virginia Delegate Vivian Watts (39th District) and Supervisor Penny Gross (Mason District) looks on as Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee District) is presented a plaque by Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny noting the installation of the county’s first HAWK pedestrian-oriented traffic signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)

The Springfield Civic Association was instrumental in organizing community partners in the effort to get a HAWK pedestrian oriented traffic signal installed near Lynbrook Elementary School of Backlick Road.  Pictured are Gail Nittle, Richard Duffy and Michele Duell. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Springfield Civic Association was instrumental in organizing community partners in the effort to get a HAWK pedestrian oriented traffic signal installed near Lynbrook Elementary School of Backlick Road. Pictured are Gail Nittle, Richard Duffy and Michele Duell. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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The new HAWK traffic signal in Springfield, Virginia, was installed as part of a project that included sidewalk improvements. HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fairfax County joins jurisdictions region-wide that began using HAWK pedestria-oriented traffic signals as early as 2009. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Virginia Delegate Vivian Watts (39th District), looks on as Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee District) is presented a plaque by Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny noting the installation of the county's first HAWK pedestrian-oriented traffic signal. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Springfield Civic Association was instrumental in organizing community partners in the effort to get a HAWK pedestrian oriented traffic signal installed near Lynbrook Elementary School of Backlick Road.  Pictured are Gail Nittle, Richard Duffy and Michele Duell. (WTOP/Kristi King)

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Officials activated Fairfax County’s first pedestrian-oriented HAWK traffic signal Tuesday in Springfield.

HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal. The signal’s placement on Backlick Road near Lynbrook Elementary School will help open the neighborhood to area children, community leaders said.

“There are many events that take place at the school after school, that some kids simply could not participate in merely because they couldn’t get to and from the school,” said Julie Childers, executive director of TrailsforYouth.org.

Until this time, all children attending the school have been bused to Lynbrook because the area lacked a safe crossing for students across Backlick Road.

“Now they at least have an option,” Childers said. “It provides the opportunity to get outdoors, get some exercise before school and coming home from school.”

Childer said studies show that even mild activity before school helps children learn and retain information.

Numbers of area jurisdictions, including D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have had HAWK signals since 2009, in some cases.

The District has 13 HAWK signals — six, alone, were added this year, according to District Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Phipps-Evans.

The traffic signals are part of D.C’s Vision Zero initiative that has a goal of zero pedestrian fatalities by 2024.

“According to Federal Highway Administration research, HAWK signals reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent compared to crosswalks without signals,” Phipps-Evans said.

The Tuesday ribbon-cutting at the HAWK in Springfield happened just hours after a man was killed on Richmond Highway, also in Fairfax County.

Aaron Nelson McCullough, 56, appeared to have been walking southbound on the highway near Buckman Road just after 6 a.m. when he was struck and killed, Fairfax County police said.

The 69-year-old driver whose SUV hit McCullough is not being charged at this time. Police said neither alcohol nor speed appear to be factors in the crash.

The investigation into the crash continues however, anyone who might know something is asked to contact police at 703-280-0543.

Watch the video of the Inaugural walk after the activation of the HAWK traffic signal on Backlick Road between Lynbrook Elementary School and Cabin John Road in Springfield, Virginia.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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