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News / Clark County News

WSDOT to install crosswalk safety light on Highway 503 after Prairie High School student was struck by car in 2023

Pedestrian safety improvements that are estimated to cost $1.1 million are scheduled for early 2025

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 28, 2024, 5:17pm

After a 14-year-old Prairie High School student crossing Highway 503 was hit by a car in early 2023, the Washington State Department of Transportation plans to make pedestrian safety improvements near the school.

The department plans to install a HAWK crossing — a crosswalk signal with flashing lights activated when a pedestrian pushes a button — near Prairie High School and Northeast 116th Street. The transportation department will also add a refuge island in the highway to give pedestrians a safer place to wait at the halfway point before completing their crossing.

The improvements are estimated to cost $1.1 million and are scheduled to be built in early 2025.

According to The Columbian, the car that struck the student was traveling around 40 mph — the posted speed limit in the area — when it struck the teen, who was not at a crosswalk. The student didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries.

“We’re excited to bring this safety improvement project so students can get to school more safely,” WSDOT Transportation Engineer Jacob Whitfield said in a Thursday press release. “We’re looking forward to adding another crossing option across (Highway) 503 to better serve the area, while also keeping drivers moving.”

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.