Crosswalk signs walk away

PHOTO+BY+BRANDON+BOWMAN+%2F+PHOTO+EDITOR%0ACrosswalk+signs+around+campus+have+taken+damage+and+13+have+been+taken+since+their+installment+in+mid-April.+

PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR Crosswalk signs around campus have taken damage and 13 have been taken since their installment in mid-April.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By LEAH WANKUM
Managing Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Nearly half of the new crosswalk signs around campus have gone missing in the past four months.

PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR Crosswalk signs around campus have taken damage and 13 have been taken since their installment in mid-April.
PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR
Crosswalk signs around campus have taken damage and 13 have been taken since their installment in mid-April.

Scott Rhoad, director of the UCM Department of Public Safety, said 13 have been removed since UCM Parking Services installed them on streets going through campus in mid-April. A total of 22 signs mark crosswalks throughout campus.
Public Safety has only recovered three, which means 10 are still missing.
Although most of the missing signs have been reinstalled on crosswalks, Rhoad said one crosswalk still needs a replacement sign.
“We’ll try to replace them,” Rhoad said. “It’s just a matter of getting them ordered and getting them here. And then (UCM Facilities, Planning and Operations) actually puts them together.”
Rhoad said it costs $308 for a whole unit. Funds to replace signs come out of operations in Parking Services’ budget. Overall, replacing the 10 signs cost approximately $3,080.
“There are certain dollars each year that aren’t necessarily designated for any one specific project so that you always have a little bit for things like this or if there’s a vehicle accident and it took out the parking lot signs, we have to go back in and replace them,” Rhoad said. “It’s kind of along that same line.”
State statutes indicate that possession of stolen items valued between $500 and $24,999 is a Class-C felony. That means anyone caught with at least two stolen crosswalk signs could face up to seven years in prison.
Bill Brinkley, assistant director of administrative services at Public Safety, said Parking Services has two signs on reserve.
Rhoad said nearly all the crosswalk signs have been damaged in some form, although they can still function without needing to be replaced.
“Damaged really isn’t the right word because, for example, I was actually standing at Union and Holden, which is that little street between the science building and the Union, and watched someone pull out of Union Street and drive right over the top of the sign,” Rhoad said. “They stopped and then went right on going. The sign popped back up. They have a breakaway system, so it goes over and it’ll come back up. And it looked fine.”
However, Rhoad said at least two signs were damaged on Mule Haul day, the Sunday when students moved into the residence halls before the first day of classes. The two signs at Clark and Holden streets were knocked over, and some of the yellow coating was scattered on the street.
Despite the thefts, Rhoad said he thinks the signs are still effective in slowing down traffic through campus.
“The purpose of them, really, is to draw attention so that drivers slow down through those pedestrian areas, to begin with, and then be aware of their surroundings anytime they’re coming up on crosswalks or whatever,” Rhoad said. “And for the most part, drivers are doing a much better job.”
On the other hand, Rhoad said Public Safety staff noticed an increase in pedestrians ignoring traffic, sometimes because they’re looking down at their phones while crossing streets.
“I don’t know if they’re taking advantage of the signage to say, ‘Oh well, there’s a sign so I can just walk and not have to look,’ or what, but we’re seeing lots of this as we’re crossing streets and we’re not paying attention to traffic,” he said. “There’s still a responsibility for the pedestrians to actually conduct themselves in a safe manner and look for traffic.”
Leah Wankum can be reached at 660-543-4050 or on Twitter @leahwankum.