The crossing buttons will meet Americans with Disabilities Act Standards, with Braille dots and chirping signals to help sight-impaired people. "At Greenbrier and Washington you have that," Walker said.
And some intersections will have electronic message boards that count down the crossing time, second by second, he said. Such improvements are common in other cities.
The project involves essentially every traffic signal downtown, from Morris Street to Clendenin Street, the Boulevard to Washington Street, plus a few intersections north of Washington and the light at the south end of the South Side Bridge.
"In addition to traffic signals there are lighted road signs. We used them at Greenbrier Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. You'll see larger, illuminated signs. The letters are larger," Walker said. These, too, meet updated federal standards.
New poles, too, as needed or requested. "In some cases we're replacing the poles at the city's request. They have a stake in this, a half million dollars." Those poles might complement streetscape improvements, Walker said, or be tinted a special color.
Bayliss & Ramey, the contractors, have until December 2014 to finish the work, project manager Rich Jacobs said.
"We hope the public will be patient with us, because there will be some delays," Jacobs said.
Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, who has been fighting for Boulevard crosswalks for about 10 years, said she was excited to hear it's finally happening.
"The idea that [the work] is started is a miracle in itself," Davis said. There were six organizations that wrote letters of support for it. It's been a long time coming.
"I know people in the East End will appreciate that they can cross with their bike, or their kids, and push a button. It's been an issue for them. Now if we can just get the curb cuts to line up with the crosswalks."
Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.