Crosswalk

The flashing crosswalk in front of Laguna College of Art + Design on Laguna Canyon Road. (DON LEACH / Coastline Pilot)

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  • 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651, United States

Caltrans will aim to install a traffic signal in front of Laguna College of Art + Design by Sept. 1, agency spokesman David Richardson said Friday.

"I'm not guaranteeing [Sept. 1], but if we're lucky we'll make it," Richardson said of a signal that was originally planned to be installed next year.

Jonathan Burke, president of the Laguna Beach college, urged Caltrans to fast-track the project in the wake of Nina Fitzpatrick's death.

Fitzpatrick, a 22-year-old LCAD fine-arts major, was hit by a car April 3 while walking in a crosswalk in front of the college's main campus, at 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. She died less than a week later.

Richardson said Caltrans is ordering needed parts and finalizing designs for the HAWK pedestrian crossing system, which uses yellow and red lights and lighted displays of a person walking as well as a hand to guide drivers and pedestrians.

Flashing warning lights currently warn drivers approaching the college from both directions on Laguna Canyon Road. Blinking lights embedded in the street also become illuminated when a pedestrian pushes a button to cross the road.

Residents and Burke, who had advocated for the signal before Fitzpatrick's death, say the current warning lights don't do enough to help ensure that motorists come to a complete stop to allow pedestrians safe crossing.

The new system will be different, Burke said.

"It goes from flashing yellow to flashing red, then to solid red, and tells pedestrians how much time they have to get across," he said of the HAWK signal. "It's pedestrian activated so it will allow traffic to flow freely until a pedestrian pushes a button."

Laguna Canyon Road has been the scene of 11 collisions involving pedestrians and vehicles from Jan. 1, 2009, through April 11 of this year, including two near the main campus in the past three months.

Caltrans is spending about $75,000 for the signal, Richardson said.

Construction could begin at the site in early August, Richardson said, adding that concrete takes 28 days to cure.

"I'm thrilled to know students will be safe," Burke said.