D.C.

HAWK signals come to D.C.

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Officials hope a new signal for crosswalks will help drivers and pedestrians co-exist in D.C.

The new stoplight, called a HAWK-Hybrid Pedestrian Signal, was activated Tuesday on Connecticut Avenue, near Northampton Street in Northwest.

"I was so thrilled to see the lights come in," said Zina Greene of D.C. "It was impossible to get across."

Greene has lived in the Connecticut Corridor near Chevy Chase for 15 years. Gone are the days, she says, when pedestrians had to use flags to signal drivers to stop.

"If you're a pedestrian, this is relatively the same as any other that you push a button for," explained DDOT Pedestrian Coordinator George Branyan.

The set of three lights is what's different, and drivers will have to pay attention to the sequence of lights.

Branyan said, "When it's dark, just drive under it."

It doesn't mean the HAWK signal is broken, just that no one is getting ready to cross the road. But as soon as someone presses the button, the lights will start flashing yellow, a reminder to drivers to use caution. The flashing  lights will then turn solid followed by a red light.

"And that means stop, of course," Branyan continued.

That's when pedestrians can cross.

After a couple of seconds, the lights will start flashing red. Drivers can then proceed with caution, allowing traffic to move quicker compared to the traffic at a standard signal.

By the end of the spring, city officials say five HAWK signals will be installed at busy intersections.

Mayor Vincent Gray was on hand to try out the crosswalk Tuesday but also to announce an extra HAWK signal will be installed on Florida Avenue and 11th Street, where Ruby Whitfield was killed in a hit-and-run.

"Finally someone in D.C. is learning how to handle transportation, taking into account that the other half are pedestrians," Greene said. "That's just marvelous. That's the way it should be."

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