A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A question about crosswalk flashing lights

Written February 1st, 2024 by Hasso Hering

The Santiam Highway crosswalk at Fred Meyer, seen on Jan. 31, still has no flashing beacons.

“I was wondering if you could find out some information,” Pamela Tackett Woitt asked. Yes, I could. And I did.

Her question concerned Santiam Highway in Albany: “The crosswalk in front of The Hope Church has the flashing solar blinking lights; however, the crosswalk in front of Fred Meyer doesn’t. This seems like a safety hazard for pedestrians. Any info on why they didn’t put flashing lights at the other? That road gets so busy.”

The short answer is that Santiam is a state highway. The Oregon Department of Transportation has jurisdiction, and in 2013, when Albany asked to have “rectangular rapid flashing beacons” installed at both those crosswalks, ODOT declined to allow it at the Fred Meyer location.

At the time, ODOT was worried that the beacons would increase rear-end crashes on the highway, and at the west crossing, in front of Fred Meyer, they would lead to long traffic queues reaching back to nearby intersections.

Ron Irish, the city’s transportation systems analyst, sent ODOT a four-page letter citing research findings to back up the city’s belief that the beacons would not cause problems and would instead improve pedestrians’ safety. But ODOT approved beacons only for the crossing in front of the church.

Both crosswalks had been improved with center islands and signs in 2008.

Flashing beacons were new when the issue came up in 2013 but have become more common since.

Irish hoped ODOT would add pedestrian-activated beacons at the Fred Meyer crosswalk when the state made changes on the highway in the last two years. On Thursday he said he thought this might still happen.

I’ve emailed a local ODOT official about that and will amend this story if and when he replies. (hh)

Here’s the crosswalk in front of the church east of Waverly Drive, equipped with flashers.


What “rectangular rapid flashing beacons” look like when they’re not flashing.


Not even instructions to pedestrians are safe from vandals.

3 responses to “A question about crosswalk flashing lights”

  1. TLH-ALB1 says:

    People could use a little extra exercise, to help reduce the waist line and improve their health. Walk your fannies down to the crosswalk that already has the safety factors built in to cross the “highway” safely.

    • Tim says:

      Agreed… you’re only maybe only 150 ft from the Santiam & SE Clay intersection. Use the crosswalk by Burgerville.

  2. Cap B. says:

    I agree with the state about the flashing lights. I think they are confusing and rear-end-crash causing. Just like having to slam on the brakes, if you obey the letter of the law, when you see a green light turn yellow…that causes rear-end crashes, too.


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