The City of Papillion has added more signage designed to slow traffic to a downtown intersection where a 10-year-old girl was struck earlier this year, resulting in her death.
Six bright yellow crosswalk yield signs were installed Monday afternoon in the intersection of Washington (84th) and Second Streets. The signs, which were bolted to the street, use words and symbols to tell drivers that they must yield to pedestrians.
The city has been analyzing the crosswalk after a driver struck Abby Whitford in August as the girl crossed the street on her way to Sump Memorial Library. She later died in a hospital.
The 19-year-old driver was charged in October with failure to yield to a pedestrian, speeding and misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide.
In the aftermath of Abby’s death, some residents and nearby business owners expressed concerns about the speed and volume of traffic along the road, which cuts through Papillion’s quaint downtown.
Trent Albers, Papillion’s spokesman, told The World-Herald that the signs should be recognizable to motorists, as they’re similar to signs used in airport drop-off zones and other areas where traffic is expected to proceed with caution.
They were introduced “to make drivers feel a little bit more like they need to slow down when they get into the downtown area,” Albers said.
Four of the signs were placed in Washington Street itself. The two others bisect crosswalks along Second Street. The six signs cost $1,200, Albers said.
The crosswalk signs are the first change made to the intersection since Abby’s death. The intersection already has other pedestrian signage and electronic boxes that display a driver’s speed.
The Papillion Police Department has made speed and crosswalk enforcement a priority in recent months. The department also has been working with the Papillion-La Vista Community Schools to teach children about pedestrian safety.
Albers said the city is considering a host of options to make 84th Street from First to Sixth Streets safer for pedestrians and motorists. For example, the city may consider narrowing the lane widths in that section — from 12 feet to 10 feet — as one measure to slow traffic, Albers said.
The city also could install what are known as “pedestrian refuges” — small sections of pavement in the middle of the street.
Papillion has hired Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, a transportation planning firm, to study the area and possible modifications. The cost of that arrangement was not immediately available Monday.
“We’re just looking for ways we can slow traffic down,” Albers said.