Contractors for City Engineering have started construction on an enhanced pedestrian crossing located on Poplar Avenue in front of the Central Library.
The improvements will comprise one of the first capital improvement projects undertaken by the City in recent years specifically to improve pedestrian safety at a known high-risk spot. The pair of bus stops at this mid-block location on Poplar Avenue count as some of the most used in the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s system. Many Memphians access the vital resources and information available at the Central Library by bus, and currently must either walk nearly a quarter-mile out of their way to use the nearest signalized crossing or risk an unprotected mid-block crossing. Over the years, multiple serious crashes have occurred as people attempt the latter. As recently as March 2018, a driver struck and killed a gentleman attempting to cross the street at this location.
The project will install a median refuge island, high-visibility crosswalks, and a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon. The refuge island will narrow the crossing distance and safely break up the crossing into two stages. While City code and State law already require drivers to stop for a person crossing at a crosswalk, the flashing beacon will better alert drivers to a pedestrian’s presence.
The project is funded by a Transportation Alternatives grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with a 20 percent local match by the City of Memphis. The construction budget for the project is $98,107.60.
As part of construction, there will be multiple lane closures on Poplar Avenue between Tillman Street and Lafayette Street. Lane closures will mostly be from 9:00 Am to 4:00 Pm on weekdays, with limited overnight closures on weekdays as well. At least two lanes of traffic will be open in each direction at all times. Construction is expected to last approximately three to four weeks, weather dependent.