The new HAWK traffic light system is now operational in downtown Papillion | Butterfly

The new HAWK crosswalk system at West Second and Washington Streets in Papillion will be active on Thursday, September 1.


The new CrossWalK or HAWK High Intensity Activated Pedestrian Signal on Washington and West Second Streets in downtown Papillion went into service Thursday morning.

The system has poles and mast arms like traditional traffic lights, but the signals are arranged with two red lights above and one yellow light below in a triangle shape. The new signals use sensors and a different style of beacon that alert drivers to pedestrians.

When the signal is off, traffic will pass normally until a pedestrian presses a button to activate it.

When triggered, the bottom light flashes yellow to alert motorists. Then the light turns solid yellow, signaling drivers to prepare to stop.

The red lights on top will then glow solid, indicating the stop and allowing pedestrians to cross, and pedestrians will see the familiar “walk” and “don’t walk” signals. Detection sensors adjust the duration of the passage sequence according to the speed of passage of pedestrians.

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At the end of the crossing, the HAWK signal changes to flashing red to allow vehicles to proceed through the intersection when clear. The signal will then return to its inactive and extinguished phase.

The new HAWK traffic light system in downtown Papillion will be operational on Thursday

These instructions for Papillion’s new HAWK Crosswalk System at West Second and Washington Streets should clear up driver confusion about safety procedures.


“This new HAWK system is going to be really intuitive,” said Trenton Albers, Communications Manager for the City of Papillion. “There won’t be a lot of thinking needed to figure it out.”

Albers said while he understands there will be a “learning curve,” there has been a lot of study to find the right system for the intersection.

Unlike a typical crosswalk, the HAWK system is designed to maximize pedestrian safety while allowing traffic flow. The signal is connected to the 84th Street Adaptive Signal Control Technology system, which improves traffic flow from Lincoln Street at Papillion to Center Street in Omaha. It is estimated that more than 30,000 vehicles use 84th Street daily.

A 2010 study by the Federal Highway Administration found that vehicle/pedestrian crashes were reduced by 69% with the HAWK system.

“We look forward to this improvement,” Albers said. “Hopefully this will make crossing the street mundane and boring.”

The $214,000 project is the latest step in a years-long effort to increase pedestrian safety in the area, which has included ground lighting, vehicle speed detection warning signs, l police enforcement and flashing crosswalk signals in the last decade alone.

After 10-year-old Abby Whitford was fatally injured as she crossed the street on her way to the Sump Library in August 2019, the city took another step by bolting yellow crosswalk signs to the street .

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