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Richard Bernstein is no stranger to tough situations. As someone who is visually impaired, he’s had to face numerous challenges in life–challenges that might make...
Farmington Observer Eccentric
By Sara Callender, Eccentric Staff Writer
August 22, 2008
Installation of experimental roundabout safety equipment has hit a roadblock in West Bloomfield.
But that’s fine with attorney Richard Bernstein, who fought for the equipment.
“This is kind of expected,” said Farmington Hills-based Bernstein. “You can’t install this kind of technology and not have engineers and other people looking at it. But the road commission has been a pleasure to work with and is jumping through hoops to make sure it’s done right. So does a few weeks matter? No.”
Bernstein filed a lawsuit against the RCOC on behalf of three disabled residents one year ago because, he said, roundabouts are unsafe for blind and disabled pedestrians.
In a national precedent-setting agreement between the RCOC and Bernstein in March, the RCOC said it would test the equipment at the roundabout at Maple and Drake roads this summer. However, the date has been pushed back to “some time this fall,” said Craig Bryson, of the RCOC.
“We have to make physical changes to the roundabout, including removing some pavement, curbs and redoing the conduits for electricity,” Bryson said. “We still have to determine where the money is coming from. But we are still committed to making sure this happens as soon as possible.”
Bernstein said Congressman Joe Knollenberg is working on securing the funds for the $500,000 project.
The RCOC will install and test automated pedestrian crosswalks with push button systems, called the Hawk. The signal will be placed at each entry point to the roundabout.
When a pedestrian pushes the button, the light turns red to stop traffic. In addition, it emits a chirping sound to let blind people know when it’s safe to cross.
“Oakland County is going to become the leader in signal technology,” Bernstein said. “It’s the wave of the future. We’re getting calls from all across the country. What’s great is that the roundabouts will still move traffic safely and effectively but they will no longer pose a danger to pedestrians.”
The RCOC will test the signals for a year once they’re installed. If the results are successful, the system could eventually be installed at other roundabouts.
The RCOC is building roundabouts at several intersections to improve traffic flow as part of the Northwestern Connector project.
The commission maintains that the roundabouts were designed according to Federal Highway Administration requirements. However, Bernstein expects that all roundabouts in the U.S. will eventually be designed with more safety mechanisms for pedestrians and disabled citizens.
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