What's known as a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk Beacon that helps pedestrians safely cross busy streets is coming to service a South Side Pueblo neighborhood.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the city of Pueblo, has installed a modified HAWK beacon at the intersection of Colorado 96 and Belmont Avenue near Heritage Elementary School and Bruner Park. The signal also is known as a Hybrid Pedestrian Beacon.

The traffic signal is the first of its kind in Pueblo, according to CDOT officials.

CDOT said the modified beacon, which will replace the pedestrian signal between Acero and Belmont avenues, will provide better visibility, improve safety and allow more direct access to Heritage Elementary.

The signal installation is anticipated to be completed and operational by early fall.

The way the HAWK beacon works, according to CDOT, is the signal remains dark until activated by a pedestrian. When a person wants to cross the street, a button is pushed which activates the signal. The new signal will go through a series of yellow and red sequences, requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians. The signal then will go dark, allowing motorists to continue through the intersection until the button is activated again.

"The HAWK beacon will improve connectivity for local residents who live in the north and south subdivisions along Lincoln Street," Matt Jagow, CDOT's traffic resident engineer, said.

The signals have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes, according to CDOT.

A Federal Highway Administration study in 2010 found that these types of signals can reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent and total crashes by 29 percent.

CDOT officials said the signal provides a clear message to motorists that they must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street.

ryans@chieftain.com