Pedestrian safety improvements coming to SR 503 near Prairie High School in Vancouver

New pedestrian signal brings better connectivity for people crossing SR 503

VANCOUVER – People who walk or roll will soon have a safer way to cross State Route 503 with the help of a new signal and crossing location.  

The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to build a HAWK (High intensity Activated crossWalK) pedestrian signal, creating safer access for pedestrians crossing SR 503 to and from Prairie High School and the nearby transit stop.

On Jan. 6, 2023, a 14-year-old student was struck by a vehicle while crossing SR 503, not in a marked crossing, near Prairie High School. Following this incident, WSDOT worked with Prairie High School to conduct pedestrian surveys to identify the best location for another controlled crossing. The new HAWK crossing will be located just south of Northeast 116th Street, immediately east of the high school. It will also include a refuge island to give pedestrians a safe place to wait at the half-way point before completing their crossing.

"We're excited to bring this safety improvement project so students can get to school more safely," said WSDOT Transportation Engineer Jacob Whitfield. "We’re looking forward to adding another crossing option across SR 503 to better serve the area, while also keeping drivers moving."

This $1.1 million project is scheduled to begin and complete construction in early 2025.

What is a HAWK signal?

The HAWK signal is a traffic control device used to provide a safer crossing for pedestrians, without holding up traffic. Different from a traditional traffic signal, a HAWK signal is only activated when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button. When there are no pedestrians, vehicles can move without interruption.

An activated HAWK signal will operate in a sequence of flashing lights. When drivers encounter the lights, they should treat them like any other traffic signal, slowing on yellow and stopping on solid red. During the flashing red interval, drivers should stop and then proceed through the crossing area only if it is safe to do so without posing any risk to pedestrians.

Pedestrians can switch on the HAWK signal by pushing the button at either end of the crossing. The lights on the pedestrian signal will show when it is safe to cross. A visual traffic signal benefits both drivers and pedestrians in helping determine who has the right of way and when it's safe to proceed.

Image shows visual aid of how a HAWK pedestrian signal operates.

Slow down – lives are on the line. 

In 2023, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.