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Brandeis to make crosswalk safer

Brandeis University and Waltham officials have announced plans to try to improve the safety of a busy crosswalk on South Street where three students were hit by a car last month.

Measures will include installing “rapid-flash beacons” that resemble police strobe lights at the crosswalk, a motion-detection system to activate warning lights at the crosswalk that will eliminate the need for pedestrians to push a button, and the addition of spotlights and improved street lighting to illuminate the area.

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“These enhancements will be made as quickly as possible in compliance with city policies and procedures, and with regard to weather conditions and the possible need for temporary street closures,” the university said last week in an announcement on the planned improvements.

Until the motion-detection system is installed, larger signs will be placed at the crosswalk telling pedestrians to push the crosswalk light-activation button, according to the university’s statement.

On Feb. 2, at about 6:25 p.m., three undergraduates were walking east in the crosswalk when they were struck by a northbound car being driven by a 42-year-old man from Belmont, authorities have said.

The students were hospitalized with serious injuries, but were listed in stable condition later that night and have since been released, officials said.

A spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office said last week that the matter remains under investigation.

A day after the incident, police and students told the Globe that the crosswalk, on a city-controlled roadway that cuts through the Brandeis campus, presents dangers for both pedestrians and drivers.

Neon yellow signs warn drivers in either direction to be cautious when approaching the crosswalk, and pedestrians can push a button to activate flashing yellow lights before they cross the street.

But the crosswalk sits at the crest of a hill, and South Street bends several times as it cuts through the university campus, reducing sight lines and reaction times for drivers and pedestrians.

Students can get across South Street by using a pedestrian bridge a short distance away. But some students said the bridge can be inconvenient and a bit out of the way, depending on where they are coming from and going to on campus.

“The safety of our community is paramount, and Brandeis immediately took steps to reach out to the City of Waltham to address safety issues in the area,” the university said in last week’s statement. “We are grateful to the Waltham Police Department for their stepped-up enforcement of vehicle speed limits and crosswalk safety in the area.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@
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