MDOT Considers New Pedestrian Signal at Woodward and Vester

Following Jaywalker Death

By, Crystal A. Proxmire


A Virgina Farrell Beauty School student was killed after being struck by a car while attempting to cross Woodward Avenue northbound near Vester on the morning of Tuesday, January 12, 2010.  According to police, the woman “stepped out into traffic” at a place where there was no crosswalk, and was hit by an oncoming car.  She was hospitalized and died several weeks later from her injuries.


Now Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey and other city leaders have asked MDOT [Michigan Department of Transportation] to consider installing an on-demand pedestrian signal at the busy intersection.  One option would be a signal that only turns red for vehicles on Woodward when someone presses the button to activate it for a crossing.  Council unanimously approved the request, which was sent along with a request from the Ferndale DPW [Department of Public Works].


MDOT has agreed to do more pedestrian counts in the area during the peak summer season, including late weekend nights, to get a better understanding for how useful another light could be in making Ferndale safer for pedestrians and bikers.


There had been a light and a crosswalk connecting Vester to Withington across Woodward Avenue through the early 1990s. In 1995 or 1996, MDOT extended the Woodward median and Vester was turned into a two-way street. Without a through street, planners saw no need for a light or a crosswalk because the Nine Mile crossing is just a block away. However, there are often people crossing Woodward one to three blocks away from the main light to reach the many bars, restaurants and businesses that line the street.

In 2003 or 2004 the Department of Public Works asked MDOT to put a crosswalk in. MDOT requires traffic of 400 pedestrians over a four-hour period to consider a crosswalk on a main thoroughfare. It did a study and determined there wasn’t enough traffic to warrant it.

But the death of the woman in January gives the department more discretion.

“I asked this (resolution) to be put together because there had been a number of folks hit. And because of the location of Hambos, Boogie Fever and other stores, and particularly at night there are people all the time running across. It would help calm traffic. The speed limit is 35 through Ferndale, but not everyone always obeys that rule,” Covey said.


The counts will be done by Labor Day, and MDOT will then make a determination about whether or not to add a new signal.


If you would like to share your view about this or any other story please go to