South Wichita Intersection Becoming Safer For Blind Pedestrians

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

South Wichita drivers have been dealing with two construction zones on the same road just a mile apart.

The first project started at Broadway and Pawnee, the second at Broadway and Harry. Both projects are aimed at making the busy intersections safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Charles Anderson tells us he worked in construction until about 16 years ago.

"Actually started losing my eyesight to a disease called RP in 96. Around 2003 it got really bad,” Anderson said.

That's when Anderson applied to Envision, which provides jobs for people who are blind or have low vision.

"It meant that I could still work and take care of my family,” Anderson said.

80 percent of the people who work with Anderson on the manufacturing floor at Envision are visually impaired. Many of them live nearby and like to walk to work, which means having to cross busy intersections like Broadway and Pawnee.

"I just usually try to cross the street and listen for cars. I've ran into a few of them where they're honking and they're right there but you don't know it because you can't hear them coming,” Anderson said.

Right now, Broadway and Pawnee is under construction.

One of the main reasons for the project is to make that intersection safer for pedestrians including the visually impaired by adding audible crosswalks.

"The audible crosswalks enable them to understand the lights have changed, and it's safe for them to cross the street at that time,” Safety and Transportation Manager at Envision, Jim Helzer said.

Just a few blocks away, Broadway and Harry is also a construction zone. The goal is to make the intersection safer for drivers by adding left turn lanes in all four directions, which it currently doesn't have.

"People not expecting it , people not paying attention. There's a lot of rear end accidents,” Interim City Engineer Gary Janzen said.

The Broadway and Harry project still has few more months before it's finished. Construction near Pawnee should be done in about a month.

Charles Anderson says he's looking forward to crossing safely at Broadway and Pawnee and would like to see similar improvements made all over the city.

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