Council, MURA may shed light on busy crosswalk

A pedestrian waits to cross West Third Street at Lieuallen in Moscow Wednesday evening. The city and the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency are splitting the cost of adding lighting to the dark crossing.

A handful of Moscow residents have voiced safety concerns over the years about the crosswalk on West Third Street near Papa Murphy’s.

Now, the city and Moscow Urban Renewal Agency may team up to install light poles this summer near the crossing for a safer experience for drivers and pedestrians.

One light pole is proposed on the north side of the crossing and another is expected on the south side of the crosswalk.

Seven other light poles are proposed to be placed this summer on the nearby frontage of the Idaho Central Credit Union, which is under construction on West Third Street.

All nine poles are expected to cost roughly $75,000 — a cost the agency and city are expected to split if the project is approved.

The MURA will discuss the item at its 7 a.m. meeting today at city hall and the city council will consider the project at an upcoming meeting.

“It’s well agreed upon that that is a pedestrian crossing that can use some safety improvements, and lighting is a pretty obvious first step,” said MURA Commissioner and Moscow City Councilor Brandy Sullivan.

There is one light pole about 40 feet west of the crosswalk by Furniture Center and brightly-colored flags are available at the crosswalk for pedestrians to hold as they walk across the street.

Moscow Public Works Director Les MacDonald told the Daily News in September a few residents expressed primarily two concerns regarding the crosswalk. The first is the short time drivers have to recognize pedestrians on the north side of the crosswalk because of the Papa Murphy’s building temporarily obstructing drivers’ views heading westbound. He said the other concern is the lack of lighting near the crosswalk, making it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians crossing at night.

MacDonald said the distance between the driver’s view and the crosswalk meets the minimum requirement when approaching at the 25 mph posted speed limit, but he said he understands residents’ concerns despite the met requirement.

MURA Commissioner and city Councilor Art Bettge said he is also a fan of the lighting project.

“I don’t want to see anyone get flattened there,” he said.

Bettge said the crossing is especially dangerous because most westbound drivers start to increase their speed to 35 mph near the intersection and some eastbound drivers do not pay close enough attention as they merge into the Third Street lane before the crosswalk.

He said something should probably be done in the future about the Papa Murphy’s building obstructing drivers’ views.

Lighting and sidewalk improvements and replacements are also expected on the Third Street corridor between Jackson and Lieuallen streets in 2021.

Moscow Community Development Director and MURA Executive Director Bill Belknap said the nine proposed lights on the ICCU frontage and near the crosswalk are scheduled to be installed this summer, instead of concurrently with the rest of the corridor improvements, in order to immediately address the crosswalk safety concerns and so as to not disrupt ICCU shortly after the completion of their construction.

The lighting and sidewalk projects in 2021 will cost roughly $799,000, Belknap said.

A Local Highway Safety Improvement Program grant will fund $675,000 of the total cost and the city and agency will contribute the remaining $124,000.


Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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