The Aventura City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to install a crosswalk, complete with solar-powered lights and a motion detector, on East Country Club Drive near the Yacht Club residences.
“This was prompted because people try to cross the road with incoming traffic,” said Public Works & Transportation Director Joseph Kroll. “People call with their concerns or send emails to the city manager or myself, and we look into this.”
Antonio Tomei, the capital project manager for the city, said that he likes the fact that the project takes the Orthodox Jewish community’s needs into account.
“They are not allowed to touch automated devices during certain days,” he said.
The shabbat is observed from sundown on each Friday and completed through to nightfall on Saturday. It is a tradition that Orthodox and Conservative Jews observe to spend time with their family and be closer to God.
During this time, they have specific rules such as no work, no turning on lights or driving cars, said a Jewish FIU student, Anna Kadushin. They can’t push buttons on shabbat.
She said that she thinks it is a thoughtful idea and she’s surprised that they haven’t already done it already.
“They do it for elevators in places where a lot of Orthodox Jews live, like in Aventura,” said Kadushin.
Kroll said the decision to install the crosswalk, which will cost about $90,000, makes sense.
“It is hard to see, and people just walk,” said Kroll. “They get run-over because cars don’t stop. The illuminating lights will be a good safety feature.”
Kroll said that the benefits of the solar panels are numerous.
“It works when there are outages, but most of all it is sustainable,” said Kroll. “Trying not to use electricity.”
The construction of this project will start mid-April. East Country Club Drive has four lanes which will be closed one at a time. The project is expected to last till May, said Kroll.
“This will go on for about two weeks,” said Kroll. “To prevent major traffic, we will work on one lane at a time.”
A few residents of the city of Aventura said that the project sounded great, but Ariel Jacobs, high school student at Mast FIU, said that there are a few pros and cons to it.
“If it is motion detected it could be triggered by a lot of things, which might cause cars to stop frequently,” said Jacobs after the meeting. “On the other hand, it is very beneficial because it would cause cars to stop as soon as people start walking.”
Kroll said he has spent his three decade career trying different technologies. He said that he enjoys trying things for the first time and if it works, he keeps using it.
“I would watch from my window and see people try to cross the road, but cars don’t stop,” he said, glancing behind him to look out the window. “It was hard because they would speed up and not realize that people are crossing…It is nice to see the project working.”
Aventura resident Sarah Belfer said she thought the project is a good one.
“Pedestrians are not really kept in mind when things are built,” she said. “It’s a great idea and that’s important.”