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YHC crosswalk to get HAWK eyes

April 13, 2011

By Erin Grable, News Editor

The HAWK, or High-intensity Activated cross-WalK, will be installed through SPLOST funds at the intersection between highway 76 and the Art Annex. Photo by Ashton Jones

With a recent traffic accident involving a Young Harris College student many students and faculty may be questioning how the College is reacting to this situation in terms of campus safety.

“There are a lot of safety issues on campus. It is never ending,” said Krista Massell, director of Safety and Compliance. “Students at other schools like Georgia Tech do not think twice about crossing the street. Our awareness must also be raised to our surroundings.”

According to a statement in a letter from Cathy Cox, the president of Young Harris College, the College cannot take a formal position on a local political issue, such as the incidence at the traffic stop three weeks ago.

However, with the passing of the recently voted Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, SPLOST directly benefits the College in several ways.

Cox also stated that one of the projects that will be funded by the SPLOST funds, through agreement with the Young Harris City Council and Town County Commissioner Bill Kendall, is a new traffic control device. This device is called a “HAWK,” which stands for High-intensity Activated cross-WalK device. The device will enable safer crossing of Highway 76 and the YHC Fine Arts Annex. It is now a federally approved traffic device, which the Georgia Department of Transportation DOT has indicated would be the best solution for the College in providing a safer crossing zone for pedestrians.

According to Jay Stroman, vice president of the Office of Advancement, the way the HAWK system works is that it is similar to a stop light. Students will push a button before crossing and a blinking light at the top will go from blinking to red. The process is very dynamic in the way it slows cars down.

“Safety is the number one priority,” said Stroman. “The HAWK system is desperately needed and will benefit students and the College.”

YHC will have to provide funding for the project, which costs more than $100,000, and local government officials have agreed to support this project with SPLOST funds.

According to Stroman, Commissioner Kendall gave three or four percent over in what is required in funding to the College.

The SPLOST project list includes funds to make long-needed improvements to Maple Street as it leads into the YHC campus.  However, it cannot fully be defined what will be done but it is likely to include improvements to the intersection of Maple Street with Highway 76 with some widening, lighting and additional sidewalk.

“I definitely think safety on campus is an important issue,” said Whitney Cook a freshman Communication major from Blairsville. “However, the HAWK system sounds like it is just a bigger crosswalk.”

Safer travel for those crossing the highway directly in front of campus and improving the traffic flow into and along Maple Street is possible with SPOLST.


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