Another HAWK Crosswalk Just Opened in Cambridge

The new stoplights take some getting used to.

MassDOT is watching out for pedestrians like a HAWK, the agency says.

In its latest experiment with jazzed up crosswalks, the state this month has been testing out a new stoplight for walkers near the Longfellow Bridge in Cambridge, at the intersection of Edwin H Land Boulevard and Cambridge Parkway. Called “pedestrian hybrid beacons,” the arrays include an extra set of lights up top to alert drivers. They are also, for the sake of ambitious acronym-generation, called “High-Intensity Activated crossWalKs,” or HAWKs.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Cambridge tested out another HAWK system down the street in Kendall Square late last year. It attracted a lot of attention because its three-light notification process was so foreign it required instructions.

It has two red lights atop one yellow one, and it hovers over of the road the same way a stoplight would. In case you end up driving in the area, here is a description from Cambridge’s website about what its signals mean (you can also study this chart):

  • When no lights are on, it is safe to drive through, but watch for pedestrians.
  • Flashing yellow means button has been pushed, so watch for pedestrians.
  • When yellow light stops flashing, drivers should stop if able to do so safely.
  • When two red lights come on. STOP. The WALK sign is on and pedestrians are crossing
  • When red lights start flashing, if crosswalk is empty, drivers can proceed after stopping, as if there is a stop sign.

A showcase of the new equipment was scheduled for Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m.with MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin, Rep. Timothy Toomey, and Rep. Jay Livingstone, according to the State House News Service.

The HAWK system’s debut at the intersection will eventually complement the reconstruction of the Longfellow Bridge, a slow-moving project that is slated to be completed eventually. The Globe reports that transportation officials are saying it should open by June of 2018.