Waiting on the green light: Traffic light on Cattell Street possible, but faces obstacles

Because+of+street+lights+further+up+Cattell+Street%2C+it+is+not+guaranteed+that+a+street+light+will+be+constructed+at+the+intersection+near+Wawa.+%28Photo+by+Caroline+Burns+22+for+The+Lafayette%29

Photo by Caroline Burns

Because of street lights further up Cattell Street, it is not guaranteed that a street light will be constructed at the intersection near Wawa. (Photo by Caroline Burns ’22 for The Lafayette)

Onab Falak, Contributing Writer

Many students are demanding a traffic light at the intersection at Cattell and High Street. The City of Easton is assessing certain streets in order to make them safer for students and pedestrians, and this intersection has been subject to controversy over the years.

While there is a crosswalk and a sign for pedestrians, these do not hinder passing cars from speeding with little consideration for anyone crossing the street. Many students believe a stop sign or stoplight would provide more consistency for pedestrians and increase general comfort levels.

“It’s not just students that cross Cattell, community members are also frequent crossers and they deserve to feel safe and seen in their travels. Personally, I have had many close encounters during the day when parked cars block my view of oncoming cars with cars honking or quickly hitting their brakes, despite my right of way to cross the street,” Abigail Schaus ‘24 said. “Cattell Street, and the safety of those crossing, should receive more attention from college administration.”

Student Government President Flor Caceres ’22 echoed her statement.

“I believe we should all take caution regardless of if we’re driving or walking. But I would be in favor of putting a [traffic light] at Wawa to prevent any further incidents to our community on the Hill,” Caceres said. “We would all be able to help both drivers and pedestrians stay safe if this initiative is implemented.”

State Representative Robert L. Freeman emphasized the importance of street signs and making sure that pedestrians feel comfortable crossing streets in Easton, especially due to the high quantity of students walking. 

Freeman is working on improving the safety of Knox Avenue, which has posed a threat to many pedestrians because of dangers associated with the curve. The vehicles often exceed the speed limit, and the curve makes it difficult for pedestrians to see oncoming traffic. 

“There have been two issues with Cattell regarding a series of accidents and the most recent have regarded the intersection of Lafayette Street and Cattell which leads up to Knox Avenue,” Freeman said. “This has been the scene of numerous accidents because it is in a very precarious and awkward curve.”

Freeman also said that he is in discussions with Easton Mayor Salvator J. Panto, Jr. over the problem of pedestrian safety around College Hill.

“I have been meeting with PENNDOT–the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation–and Mayor Panto to address the issue,” Freeman said. “We have a follow-up meeting at the end of March to institute improvement, to slow traffic, and to make motor[ists] aware of the nature of the intersection.” 

There are a number of improvements PENNDOT is looking to institute to slow traffic. One of the things that they have begun to institute, which will become more permanent in the spring, is the installation of strips. This creates a visual effect that depicts the road as narrow, forcing vehicles to slow down while coming down Knox Avenue. The lines are painted on right now but PENNDOT is looking to make it permanent with the application of thermoplastic in the spring, which is more durable.

Freeman also highlighted the difficulty of addressing the issues students face crossing the intersection near Wawa. Due to the existence of other traffic lights, installing more can be a large challenge.

“There was another issue with High Street that was attempted by the City of Easton. In that case, PENNDOT was reluctant because their studies showed that it didn’t warrant it at that time due to the other two existing [traffic lights] further up Cattell,” Freeman said. “One of the two would have to be taken out in order to implement a new one, but those two are very important safety features that can’t be removed.”

Freeman nevertheless stated his high support for this light due to the safety issues for students late at night.

“However, I still believe there is a need for the [traffic light] on the intersection of High Street and Cattell because it is precarious for students, in particular, crossing the street,” Freeman said. 

While the city has made the initiative to make Knox Avenue safer, it remains unclear if it will implement new changes to the intersection on Cattell Street.