New Hawk Signal at Student Activities Center Causes Confusion

By Alina Park

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Oct. 8 – The new traffic light, also called a High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) signal, at Rutgers University has caused congestion and confusion.

The City of New Brunswick, Middlesex County, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), all worked together for on this million-dollar project including the light and the new bike lanes.

Students have been complaining about the extra traffic on George Street and the opinion that the new traffic light has only caused confusion.

“I think the light is really confusing,” Rutgers student Aaron Costley said. “Nobody really knows what the different signals mean.”

National studies, like the Federal Traffic Administration, state that the HAWK signal generally reduces heavy traffic by a great deal.

The light that was in place before this new installment was outdated and the county agreed that there needed to be a change.

“The original light was installed in 1986 and this new one was upgraded to current standards,” Middlesex County Engineer Richard Wallner said.

The light was created as part of the new bike lanes that have been installed recently in order to connect the campuses, but New Brunswick residents and Rutgers students seem to think that the bike lanes are not being used.

“I can’t believe that the meter parking spots next to the SC&I building have all been removed,” student Annette Malysa said. “I used to always park there when I had classes in the SC&I building and it was so convenient. I really don’t ever see anyone using the bike lanes either.”

The HAWK signal goes through a loop of three lights has three lights that loop through a set of lights when pedestrians press the button to use the crosswalk:

  • First it will flash yellow meaning that traffic can go but to be aware of pedestrians.
  • Then it will stay a solid yellow that means slow down to stop for pedestrians.
  • Then it will stay a solid red meaning cars must come to a full stop.
  • Then it will flash red, meaning cars can go once pedestrians have cleared the streets.
  • Finally, it becomes blank again and traffic proceeds, and should be treated as a green light.

Rutgers students say that they are confused and that they generally follow what the traffic is doing.

“When I drive up ght, I slow down whenever it’s yellow and stop whenever it’s red,.” Sophomore April Rastatter said. “I only go when it’s blank because that’s when traffic starts moving.”

Since installment, the volume of traffic has been higher than ever.

Although George Street has become hectic for vehicles, pedestrians seem to not mind the new light since it changes signals as soon as pedestrians press the crosswalk button.

“I think the New Brunswick community just needs to understand exactly how the light works in order for traffic to cut back,” student Kimberly Grauer said. “I honestly like how much faster it takes for me to cross the street by the SAC than before.”