New traffic signal installed on River Road at Waterfront Park - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New traffic signal installed on River Road at Waterfront Park

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Attention drivers: There's a new traffic light on River Road at Waterfront Park.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and public works officials unveiled the signal Monday afternoon, making it the first light on a popular, 3-mile portion of River Road between Louisville Slugger Field and Zorn Avenue.

"The point of this is to improve our safety across the city, and this is one technique that we're attempting," said Vanessa Burns, the city's public works director. "This is the first light that is like this in the whole state."

The "hybrid" structure doesn't work like a typical traffic signal. The lights hanging above River Road near the parking lot for the Tumbleweed restaurant will stay dark until a pedestrian wishing to cross presses a button that causes the lights to flash yellow before turning red.  At that point, pedestrians can cross the road at a striped crosswalk.

The signal will result in a "safer River Road," Burns said.

Louisville Public Works built the device using existing equipment and lights, said Chris Poynter, a Fischer spokesman. The city announced plans for the light this summer, in part because of additional people flocking to Waterfront Park after the Big Four Bridge opened to pedestrians and cyclists in February.

But Metro government is holding off on a similar light or other pedestrian improvements at an intersection farther west at Witherspoon Street and River Road across from the Big Four. Without a crosswalk or light, people visiting the park have sometimes had to wait several minutes to cross the street.

The city commissioned a traffic study of that area earlier this summer, but vehicle counts on River Road and Witherspoon have remained steady, said Pat Johnson, traffic engineering manager for Public Works.

The intersection is near the construction zone for the downtown part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.  Public Works officials plan to revisit the feasibility of a light in the future because traffic and pedestrian patterns may change after the work is complete.

"I think it's something that we'll go back to once the bridges work is appreciably done," Johnson said.

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