FIRST ON 3: New electronic crosswalk sign victim of hit-and-run

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An ironic twist tonight: A crosswalk intended to make a busy downtown Wilmington street safer was taken out by a driver who took off. The state’s first crosswalk of its kind is only half operational after a weekend hit and run.

According to Wilmington transportation planners, a driver hit the sign on the east corner of 3rd Street at Ann Street, leaving only one side with a working flashing beacon. Pedestrians say it’s making things more confusing for drivers and dangerous for them.

“We have one crosswalk, as you see, over here, and these drivers stop, and you have the other road drivers going 50 miles an hour,” Webster Guthrie said. “They’re not both stopping at the same time, so you don’t know really whether to stop, go or what to do.”

With only one side operational, Robert Erb with Residents of Old Wilmington is disappointed. The organization helped pay for the signs specifically to get drivers to slow down, and make 3rd Street more pedestrian-friendly. While he may be upset, he’s not shocked.

“I think those signs are set in there with concrete, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the driver were speeding also, which is one of the issues with the crosswalk,” Erb said.

Since going up in April, there have been concerns that the crosswalk has been ineffective. There are complaints of drivers who do not yield to pedestrians.

“When I had first heard that it was gone, I thought perhaps a disgruntled driver had taken it down, because they didn’t want to have to stop,” Erb said.

Residents of Old Wilmington may have helped get the sign up and running, but Erb says there may not be money in the budget to help pay to get it back up. According to a city transportation planner just how much it will cost and who will be responsible is still up in the air. A Florida contractor, who was already in town to check out technical problems with the sign this weekend, found that it had been hit. He took the pieces back with him, to see if any of the pre-crash issues were covered under warranty, but the warranty may not cover damage from the crash. In the meantime, Wilmington Police are still trying to find who is responsible.

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