Mission to begin increased enforcement effort for pedestrian safety on Johnson Drive

Mission's Johnson Drive is now fully open after months of construction.
Mission’s Johnson Drive opened last November after months of construction. Pedestrian safety has become an issue since then, particularly about drivers failing to yield at crosswalks.

In the year since the rebuilt Johnson Drive opened through downtown Mission, the city has heard frequent concerns about pedestrian safety in the downtown area, Mission Public Works Director John Belger told the city council Wednesday.

Those concerns will prompt an increased enforcement action by Mission police, likely starting as early as next week, to make sure drivers are yielding to pedestrians a the crosswalks.

Drivers exceeding the speed limit and pedestrians crossing at intersections are the two primary concerns, Belger said. The city has ordered a traffic study on speed and volume so the city will have data for a decision about lowering the speed limit, which is currently 30 miles per hour in the downtown.

Johnson Drive all the way through Mission – not just downtown – averages about one accident per week, Mission Police Chief Ben Hadley said. That has not changed since the street rebuild. The latest traffic count, before the rebuild, showed 17,000 cars per day traveling the street, Belger said.

Hadley said one accident had been crosswalk related since the rebuild and that was a rear-end accident, not involving a pedestrian injury.

“I know how dangerous it can be down there,” Hadley said referring to cars not stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Even at the crossings with flashing pedestrian beacons, cars fail to stop it was pointed out.

The enforcement, Hadley said, is about “trying to keep the customers safe.” The police do not want to scare anyone away from businesses, but also “don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Police will talk to each business on Johnson Drive before the increased enforcement effort starts, Hadley said, to explain the intent.

Warning signs also will be placed on each end of the street advising drivers of the stepped-up enforcement. Hadley said he preferred to give warning tickets to get a handle on the problem, but officers will be able to use their discretion.

City staff also plans to target a pedestrian education about proper crossing. A staff memo said the council may want to discuss adding the beacons at more downtown intersections.