KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
October 16, 2023
By Natalie Cook Clark
Fort Bend County officials are making changes after the recent fatal collision in a Mason Road crosswalk. The changes made (and more areas are being evaluated) will maintain mobility and minimize risk to all road users.
Photo credit: Constable Chad Norvell
Recent Accident Causes Community Concern
The Katy community continues to mourn the loss of a teenager, who was struck at a Mason Road crosswalk on his way to Cinco Ranch High School. The loss has also increased public concern about the pedestrian safety at area crosswalks.
“We believe our community is safe, but we want to make these improvements to make it safer,” says Fort Bend County Constable Chad Norvell, who says that they have also increased law enforcement near crosswalks.
Commissioner Vincent Morales, Fort Bend County Constable Chad Norvell, Fort Bend County Road & Bridge, and Fort Bend County Engineering Department have been coordinating on steps to take to help maintain mobility for and minimize risk to all road users.
Changes are being Done
Last week, signage and pavement markings have been updated to be consistent with State laws that requires drivers to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Signs that read, “YEILD here for pedestrians” are being replaced with signs that read, “STOP here for pedestrians.” Yield lines on the pavement are being replaced with stop lines.
Engineering and Road & Bridge are evaluating landscaping at these crossings to ensure that vehicles and pedestrians have adequate visibility of each other.
County staff is working on design and upgrades for mid-block trail crossings to ensure that vehicles and pedestrian
Last week, a student was struck on her way to Jordan High School. Luckily, the student had no significant injuries, but the incident occurred early in the morning when it was dark. It is darker when students are heading to school now due to daylight savings time, making it even more important for drivers to look for pedestrians.
Fort Bend County staff are evaluating designs and upgrades to mid-block trail crossings on four-lane major thoroughfares. This will involve changing the flashing yellow warning lights to HAWK signals, also referred to as Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons. The HAWK signals allow pedestrians to push a button to help them safely cross. The traffic signal is similar to full traffic signals and drivers receive a red indication when they are legally required to stop.
These upgrades will occur in stages, with the highest priority being given to the three Willow Fork trail crossings near Katy ISD schools:
Mason Road near Creech Elementary
Fry Road near Beck Junior High
Westheimer Parkway near Williams Elementary
The county needs time to get the materials and install the HAWK signals and they aren’t anticipated to be active in the above-mentioned areas until Spring 2024.
After those are active, Fort Bend County wants to add more at three Buffalo Bayou Trail crossings:
The County has been working with the Willow Fork Drainage District about replacing the fourth of these crossings, Cinco Ranch Boulevard, with a pedestrian underpass. Depending on the timing of that project, it is possible that Cinco Ranch Blvd. may have a HAWK signal added in the interim as well.
Katy Residents Can Help
“We need parent help too,” says Constable Norvell. “Parents can reinforce the need to always look both ways and to never ride a bicycle into a crosswalk without stopping first.”
The Engineering Department is assessing other locations of high pedestrian activity to determine if further safety treatments are warranted. Residents are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to report areas that need to be evaluated.
Fort Bend County Constable’s Office reminds residents to report all damaged, missing, or malfunctioning traffic control devices to FBCRB@fbctx.gov