Malfunctioning, damaged flashing pedestrian signs in Miami to be repaired by spring

By Layron Livingston - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Why did the Leave it to Layron team cross the road? To help make sure as many people as possible get to the other side safely.

Back in April, viewers reached out to the LITL team looking for help solving a potentially dangerous problem. They wanted to know why so many of the flashing pedestrian signs -- the ones that alert drivers to pedestrians entering crosswalks along Biscayne Boulevard in Miami -- were not working.

They also wanted to know what was being done to fix the broken signal devices. 

The LITL team contacted Miami-Dade County's transportation department. We learned the Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) are "enhancements to the crosswalks." 

Drivers are required by law to stop or yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks when the lights are working and when they're not. 

We also learned that the signals are installed at more than a dozen crosswalks along Miami's Biscayne corridor, between 13th and 84th streets.

At the time, there were malfunctioning, or inoperable signals at more than half of those crossings.

The county initially responded in a statement: "The County has repaired a large number of these RRFBs; however, supply of equipment and materials for these devices has been exhausted. More critically, the County's effort to repair and/or replace these units was halted when the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) withdrew the approval for the use of these devices. The County and the Florida Department of Transportation were working on alternatives to replace the malfunctioning units; however, the FHWA has reinstated the ability to use these devices and we have restarted procurement efforts for the repair/replacement of the RRFBs."

We were told the time frame for procuring those parts would be eight to 12 weeks. 

"It's all these little components that, ultimately, you hope they work together," said Frank Aira. "They work great out of the box, but [that] doesn't mean that it always works." 

Aira heads up the county's traffic signals and signs division, which oversees the maintenance and operation of nearly 4,200 signals across the county, including nearly 100 RRFBs  

Viewers initially pointed the LITL team to malfunctioning signals at 29th and 32nd streets. A recent check of those crossings showed they were working properly. 

As of November, repairs still needed to be made at five crosswalks along Biscayne, and 15 more in other parts of the county.

We asked Aira what was taking so long?

He said along with buying parts to repair multiple beacons, the county is also looking at repositioning some signs. Ironically, they are prone to getting hit by cars.

Aira said the county is almost done buying the necessary parts. He hopes, all of the damaged, missing and malfunctioning beacons are working properly by early Spring.

"We're all in a hurry and there is traffic," Aira said. "We just have to try to be patient and respectful so that nobody gets hurt."

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