[Print from today's Freep of the article Anders circulated yesterday]

Winnipeg counts down to countdown crosswalks

PEDESTRIANS will get a heads-up about how much time they have to cross Portage Avenue and Donald Street.

This Wednesday, the City of Winnipeg will install a pedestrian countdown signal at all four points in the downtown intersection to indicate the number of seconds remaining to cross the street. It's Winnipeg's first countdown signal and is part of a pilot project to test the devices.

Traffic-signals engineer Michael Cantor said the devices are mandatory at some intersections in the United States, and other Canadian cities have also installed them.

He said Winnipeg traffic officials decided the downtown intersection would be a good place to test the device, since there is a high volume of foot traffic and it is close to the MTS Centre.

"If you decide to start (crossing) later, at least you know how many seconds you have," Cantor said.

It costs up to $10,000 to install the devices at an intersection. Cantor said the city plans to review feedback from a survey at the downtown site and consider whether the devices can be installed at other locations.

He said there are some technical challenges involved in making the device a permanent fixture on city streets since the new software in Winnipeg traffic-control signals doesn't support the countdown system. Cantor said the city will work to address this challenge.