FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — New traffic lights where East State Blvd. intersects with Busche and Arrowwood Drives in northeast Fort Wayne were recently installed.

Also added at the intersection are new crossing signals and cross-walk buttons for pedestrians to press.

The city’s traffic engineer, Kyle Winling, told WANE 15 on Tuesday that the lights will be turned on sometime next week, pending completion of electrical inspections.

“Unfortunately, it’s at the end of school. That’s just how things work with utility relocations. It takes a lot of work to make this happen, but I think we actually got it out pretty quick,” Winling said.

He said that particular corridor of East State was already designated for long-range planning projects that would add more sidewalks and street lighting. The reason was because of the proximity to Blackhawk Middle School and Fort Wayne Community Schools being a Safe Routes To School partner organization.

People who live in that area are in a “no-transportation zone,” meaning students have to walk to school.

During the 2022 school year, two children were hit by cars while crossing East State. A young girl was hospitalized and a young boy had life-threatening injuries.

Winling said those incidents accelerated the process and led the city to bypass plans for more sidewalks and lights and jump straight to a traffic signal.

“Unfortunately, the accidents happened, and I can’t speak to the exact terms,” he said.” You know, there’s so many factors involved with an accident. So, it’s hard to say that a signal would have prevented it or not. Driver experience, weather, visibility, I mean, there’s so many things involved with that, but seeing two accidents happen within a year of each other, it’s a little awkward, and that did help spur the administration. Mayor Henry said ‘let’s get this done,’ so we put it on the priority list.”

FWCS representatives previously told WANE 15 that the district was concerned about the intersection.

On Tuesday, district spokeswoman Krista Stockman told WANE 15 via email that they’re happy the change is coming.

“We are pleased to see the lights up and are excited they will be functional soon. With the school year ending on Thursday, more children will be out in neighborhoods, and this will provide them a safe place to cross State Boulevard. We appreciate the City of Fort Wayne taking our concerns and those of the community seriously and following through on installing the new traffic light,” she said.

Sylvia Weston, the crossing guard who was on duty when both children were hit in 2022, also said she was happy to see the new traffic light, even if it took longer than she would’ve liked.

Weston told WANE 15 she has since quit being a crossing guard because of what she witnessed at the intersection of State and Busche/Arrowwood not once, but two times just four months apart.

“I was supposed to protect them, and I dropped the ball,” Weston explained. “I still feel bad about it, but there’s nothing I can do. Maybe this [points to the new traffic light] will.”

She said that she often witnessed distracted drivers, people going too fast, or both at the same time.

With no traffic light paired with the darkness at 7:00 a.m. on a cold, December morning, Weston said she sometimes felt powerless when it came to her crossing guard duties.

She hopes the new stop lights will save lives and urge drivers to slow down and obey the new signal.