Overland Park adds first HAWK signal in city near Briarwood Elementary

The HAWK signal was installed on Nall near 86th Street in part to improve safety for families walking to Briarwood Elementary. File photo.

Overland Park has activated the first HAWK beacon in the city on Nall Ave. near Briarwood Elementary, a step city leaders hope will improve pedestrian safety in the school neighborhood.

HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) beacons have been showing up in more spots around northeast Johnson County in recent years. Pedestrians looking to cross Nall Ave. just north of 86th Street can activate the beacon by pressing a button the light post. That triggers a set of flashing signals hanging over the road, which halt traffic so pedestrians can cross. The new HAWK beacon replaces to traditional crosswalk that had been on the site.

“The HAWK signal brings this infrastructure up to current standards for the number of students crossing at that location and provides them an even safer walk to school,” said city communications supervisor Meg Ralph. “When we consider infrastructure updates, we work with the school districts to determine which student pedestrian routes need improvements.”

The city will put a second HAWK signal online at 81st and Metcalf in early 2020 in an effort to improve safety for pedestrians looking to get to amenities downtown.

“The location for this one was selected in order to increase the walkability of Downtown Overland Park and create an even safer environment for pedestrians to cross Metcalf to get to the Farmers’ Market, Thompson Park, and the apartments and businesses in the downtown area,” Ralph said.

Prairie Village installed a similar type of device along Cambridge Drive a few years ago to improve safety for pedestrians looking to get to Weltner Park. Merriam added two new HAWK signals this past year.