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Pedestrians urged to use Sewickley crosswalks

| Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 10:55 a.m.
John Hemlock and Karmen Baumgardner of Laurel Asphalt based in Windber, Pa., work to install a crosswalk at the intersection of Beaver and Grove streets in Sewickley Aug. 16, 2012. Photo by Kristina Serafini
Honorary foreman Grant Webb, 7, of Sewickley supervises a crew from Laurel Asphalt based in Windber, Pa., as they install a crosswalk at the intersection of Beaver and Grove streets in Sewickley last week. Grant said he's been watching the crosswalk installation process since they started early last week. Photo by Kristina Serafini

Though most pedestrians are taking advantage of the new crosswalks in Sewickley, an informal survey shows many still are choosing to jaywalk instead.

During a 45-minute period last Friday morning, 52 people were observed crossing Beaver Street in the area of Starbucks and Bruegger's.

Of those individuals, 29 used the crosswalk on Beaver Street in front of the Nickelodeon Mall and Pendleton shop while 23 jaywalked.

Many of the jaywalkers were individuals who parked their vehicles along Beaver Street, got out and dashed across the street to their destination.

A similar scene took place in Sewickley the evening before when the Village was bustling with people dining at Sewickley Hotel, eating frozen treats at Sincerely Yogurt and picking up items at Rite Aid and Wine and Spirits.

That evening, of 79 people observed, 45 used the crosswalk spanning Beaver Street in front of Rite Aid and 34 jaywalked.

While Sewickley Borough Police Chief Jim Ersher said his department doesn't have plans to start ticketing jaywalkers, borough officials want to stress the importance of using the crosswalks.

"If we're putting in these safety features, people have to use them," Sewickley Manager Kevin Flannery said.

He said people cannot dart across the street whenever they want to because it's convenient.

But they still do anyway.

Sewickley meter maid Margie Wakefield said despite the new crosswalks, she still has noticed many people jaywalking during her rounds through the borough.

She's hoping as people get used to them, they will take advantage of them.

"They just got finished with (the crosswalks on Beaver Street), so it's hard to say how it's going to work out," Wakefield said.

Laurel Asphalt based in Windber, Pa., spent last week and the early part of this week installing 20 crosswalks in the community.They were expected to be completed by Tuesday.

During the installation process, workers lay squares of crosswalk material made of corundum, a crystalline mineral found in igneous rocks, which are bonded to the asphalt with adhesive and heated to about 250 degrees to form one large piece.

The area is then cooled to about 160 degrees and workers then lay a brick imprint over it.

The finished, non-skid crosswalk is highly reflective and resistant to weeds, erosion and freeze-thaw cycles.

Aesthetically, Flannery said they stand out against the black roads and match the brick on a portion of the sidewalks throughout the business district.

"It's a nice thing for a walking town," Flannery said.

On the Sewickley Herald's Facebook page, the new crosswalks were generally well-received.

"Love them! Hopefully people will notice them and watch out for pedestrians," Jessica Grotevant-Webster wrote under a photo of the new crosswalk outside of Rite Aid.

In total on Thursday and Friday, 12 percent of motorists did not stop for pedestrians during two 45-minute time slots.

"There will always be jaywalkers and fast drivers, but it takes a village," Cynthia Phillips wrote.

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