NEENAH - Trying to keep people safer walking across busy streets is taking a step forward in Neenah.
New crosswalks are being installed on two busy streets near large employers.
One is on Commercial Street in front of Neenah Paper. The other on Wisconsin Avenue by Bemis Corporation.
More than 13,000 cars a day drive past Neenah Paper each day. With more than 800 crossings, pedestrian say there have been numerous close calls.
"It's generally what you would expect in that most of the time it's people on their cell phones, texting or talking and that kind of thing," said Neenah Paper mill manager Dave Paulus.
Around the corner, Bemis Company also had concerns for its employees crossing Wisconsin Avenue. So both companies went to the city to work on a solution.
"It's kind of the next step further to try and get drivers to stop and that's what it’s really about," said Neenah traffic engineer James Merten.
The city is installing a system called the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon by Neenah Paper. The crossing adds flashing red stop lights when pedestrians approach to stop traffic. A similar system is already being used in Appleton by the Appvion property.
Neenah and Neenah Paper have tried several different crossings at the intersection over the years but they say they only slowed drivers down until they got used to them, but Paulus says the system the city will install here next week is proven to be different.
"What really drives the safety behavior around that one is that it is a red light and it's more like a controlled intersection in that they will have to stop."
The Neenah Paper project costs $15,000. The islands around Bemis cost $10,000. The city is splitting those costs with the companies.
"Times are difficult in this economy, so this was a way we could both partner together to address the issue," said Peter Schmitz, safety officer for Bemis.
Sharing resources for creative solutions in the name of safety.
The crosswalks should be completed next week. Merten says public works crews are also examining if the same style would work at other crossings.
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