By ANDREW T. MOHLMAN
The large orange construction barrels that dotted Spanish Fork’s Main Street to warn motorists of possible pedestrians have been removed due to violation of state regulation.
Doug Bassett, Region Three Traffic Engineer for The Utah Department of Transportation, asked Spanish Fork officials to remove the barrels from the street.
“The barrels are not an approved traffic control device for the purpose that they were placed out there. Those barrels are used to channel people in a construction zone,” he said.
The barrels, used by some cities to make drivers aware of pedestrians, may also distract drivers Bassett said. Drivers may attempt to read the small signs placed on top of the barrels and not see pedestrians. Also, if someone hit a barrel with their car, the state would be liable for any personal injury or property damage, Bassett said.
Although the barrels are against regulation, public response to the effort has been supportive.
“I have received lots of positive comments from both drivers and pedestrians how it was a good reminder to them,” said Dee Rosenbaum, chief of police in Spanish Fork. “I think they’re a very positive thing, but we’ll comply with UDOT.”
Spanish Fork officials have removed the barrels from Main Street but Chief Rosenbaum said they will continue to use them on city owned streets.
“We’ve told Provo, Payson and Spanish Fork (to remove the barrels),” Bassett said. “We have no jurisdiction over city roads, so that’s a choice of their making.”
The Spanish Fork Police Department reported 10 vehicle-pedestrian accidents in 1998. Police officers are working on curtailing the accidents.
“In the last three months, I think we’ve issued about 55 citations for people not stopping for pedestrians,” Rosenbaum said. “We’re aggressively enforcing this right now.”
“Any effort to try to get people to pay more attention to pedestrians is noble … but the way they went about it with the barrels is not appropriate.” Bassett said.
The problem lies not only with drivers, but also with pedestrians.
Dale R. Barney, mayor of Spanish Fork, said, “The biggest problem we have with pedestrians is jaywalking.”
Spanish Fork, like most cities, has a law against jaywalking but it is not currently being enforced.
“You see jaywalking all over town,” Rosenbaum said. The police department has not issued citations for jaywalking.
“If we’ve got a law in the book, we’ve got to enforce it or do away with it,” Barney said.