Fairfax Co. Installs New Pedestrian-powered Crosswalk Aimed at Improving Safety

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Officials activated Fairfax County’s first pedestrian-oriented HAWK traffic signal Tuesday in Springfield.

HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal. The signal’s placement on Backlick Road near Lynbrook Elementary School will help open the neighborhood to area children, community leaders said.

“There are many events that take place at the school after school, that some kids simply could not participate in merely because they couldn’t get to and from the school,” said Julie Childers, executive director of TrailsforYouth.org.

Until this time, all children attending the school have been bused to Lynbrook because the area lacked a safe crossing for students across Backlick Road.

“Now they at least have an option,” Childers said. “It provides the opportunity to get outdoors, get some exercise before school and coming home from school.”

Childer said studies show that even mild activity before school helps children learn and retain information.

Numbers of area jurisdictions, including D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have had HAWK signals since 2009, in some cases.

The District has 13 HAWK signals — six, alone, were added this year, according to District Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Phipps-Evans.

The traffic signals are part of D.C’s Vision Zero initiative that has a goal of zero pedestrian fatalities by 2024.

“According to Federal Highway Administration research, HAWK signals reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent compared to crosswalks without signals,” Phipps-Evans said.

The Tuesday ribbon-cutting at the HAWK in Springfield happened just hours after a man was killed on a Richmond Highway, also in Fairfax County.

Aaron Nelson McCullough, 56, appeared to have been walking southbound on the highway near Buckman Road just after 6 a.m. when he was struck and killed, Fairfax County police said.

The 69-year-old driver whose SUV hit McCullough is not being charged at this time. Police said neither alcohol nor speed appear to be factors in the crash.

The investigation into the crash continues however, anyone who might know something is asked to contact police at 703-280-0543.

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