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After serious injury, Phoenix woman fights to get a crosswalk for her community

Pedestrian crossing sign
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 09:18:55-04

PHOENIX — The doctor has specific orders for Phoenix resident Julianne Birdt to get her back on her feet.

"They said anywhere from three to six months non-weight-bearing," Birdt said.

Safety for her neighbors is weighing heavily on her mind.

"My husband was watching (ABC15) and he saw that you were doing a project on safe roads and this is definitely not a safe road," Birdt laughed.

She emailed Roads@ABC15.com with the letter she sent to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego about 68th Street and Chauncey Lane.

In it, she described the moment she was with her two dogs when she tripped and fell while trying to dart across the road without a crosswalk. Her femur was snapped from the fall.

"I was just running across the street so that I could not be hit by a car," Julianne said.

She desperately wants a crosswalk added so this does not happen to anyone else.

She explained to ABC15 that this is an area packed with multi-family housing and, during the school year, there is a bus stop. That means children are making the same journey she did.

"They fly down this road," said Kate Agius as a driver sped by her and her child's stroller. "You can see right now."

Agius also lives in the area and said the speed is very concerning to her. She would love to see a crosswalk here and thinks it would help slow drivers down.

Residents in need of a crosswalk should always look to contact their city or town's transportation department.

In this case, it is the City of Phoenix.

It turns out, they did go out and study the area following Birdt's request but they did not contact her to let her know until ABC15 reached out with her concerns.

The Street Transportation Department said they studied the area in early April and decided a crossing was warranted in the area.

The department submitted this statement to ABC15:

"Street Transportation Department staff corresponded with Ms. Birdt by phone the last two days and will continue to communicate with her about these concerns. The department received her e-mail on April 1 and by April 7 had completed a pedestrian study at the 68th Street and Chauncey Lane intersection. That study indicated that a crossing is warranted. Department staff continues to work to determine the type of crossing infrastructure that should be installed and if a median island also would be warranted. Potential options may include installing a marked crosswalk, a pedestrian refuge island, or a pedestrian crossing device such as a flashing beacon or a HAWK. To fully accommodate pedestrians at this location, a sidewalk and curb ramps also are needed on the north part of this intersection. The section of 68th Street between Princess Drive and Mayo Drive is scheduled for pavement maintenance in 2023, and that will allow the department to provide a complete project and consider an opportunity for restriping along that stretch of roadway to create a safer experience for all users. The restriping process will provide an opportunity to evaluate the lane configuration, add an appropriate crossing for pedestrians, and also fill in sidewalk and curb ramps where needed."

"It would make me feel safe because it wouldn't just be lines on the road," Birdt said. "It would be something in the visual field of the drivers that would make them stop."

The city is now looking to see what will be best to add here. It could be a marked crosswalk, a pedestrian refuge island, or something like a 'HAWK' light that flashes to alert drivers.

Do you need a crosswalk in your Phoenix community? Here is how to contact the department: 602-262-6284 (main number) and streetsp@phoenix.gov.

Residents can also fill out an online form here.

Birdt tells ABC15 she is excited that something is being done, even if it may take a little longer than she would like.

Do you have a road issue or a question for Operation Safe Roads? Call 833-AZ-ROADS or email roads@abc15.com.