NORTH SALT LAKE -- A HAWK in the sky is making it safer for Adelaide Elementary School students to walk to school.
At the request of the school and North Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation recently installed a new High Intensity Activated Crosswalk, or "HAWK," beacon at the intersection of U.S. 89 and 800 West in North Salt Lake.
The new system is above the roadway and remains dark unless a pedestrian pushes the button to activate the signal.
Once the pedestrian pushes the button, drivers will see flashing yellow lights for a few seconds, followed by a solid yellow light, indicating the signal is about to turn red. Once the light changes to a steady red, all traffic must stop, and pedestrians can then safely cross the street.
As traffic counts have risen on U.S. 89, it has become more difficult for school kids to find sufficient gaps in traffic to safely cross the highway.
"Highway 89, obviously is a major thoroughfare and it's a very busy street," said Adelaide Principal Becky Bouvang. "It's not your typical quiet, neighborhood street."
Bouvang said there always has been a crossing guard stationed at the intersection, but even that wasn't cutting it.
"We needed something more to make sure our students could get to school in the safest manner possible," she said. "We're excited that we have that now."
Carrie Jacobson, UDOT Region One signals engineer, said the signal has been used before in other areas and has been shown to dramatically increase safety at busy crossings.
"For whatever reason, cars can sometimes have a hard time seeing the crossing guard," Bouvang said. "This will have a lot more of a visual impact."
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said the system went live Friday and has thus far been successful.