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City To Test 'Barnes Dance' At Loop Intersection

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 31, 2013 8:20PM

The city began testing out the “Barnes Dance”-style all way pedestrian crosswalk, aka a “pedestrian scramble,” Friday at one of the busiest intersections downtown. The intersection of Jackson Boulevard and State Street will serve as the pilot for the program, which will allow for pedestrian crossing in all directions—including diagonally—for a 35-second span during every third traffic light cycle.

Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said the intersection is the perfect spot to test out the program. According to CDOT, Jackson and State sees more than double the pedestrian traffic on an average day than vehicle traffic. Over 41,600 pedestrians cross the intersection daily and it’s situated near the largest population of college students in the city. “Chicagoans and visitors will be able to cross on foot more quickly and safely while all vehicular traffic is stopped. This is part of our strategy to eliminate as many conflicts as possible for everyone's safety and enhanced vehicle throughput as well; a win-win," Klein said in a statement.

Traffic aides will help direct traffic on Friday and the program will be monitored via camera for a six-month period, with adjustments to be made on an as-needed basis. Klein, who helped re-implement the all-way intersections while he was Washington, DC’s Transportation Commissioner, told the Sun-Times it’s “an opportunity to clean up the operations of the intersection, and we think traffic will flow better."

The intersections are called “Barnes Dances” after transportation planner Henry Barnes, who introduced them in his hometown of Denver. (Denver did away with the intersections in April 2011.) Pedestrian scrambles are also used in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and Pittsburgh.

In conjunction with the pilot program, the following CTA bus routes have been changed. The northbound #151 Sheridan route, which had traveled east on Jackson to State, then north to Washington Street, will now turn north on Dearborn Street. The #130 Museum campus’ eastbound routes will be altered to operate via Jackson, Clark, and Congress, then resume their current route on State. Westbound #130 service will not be affected.