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HAWK (High-intensity Activated Crosswalk) Beacon


HAWK beacon

The HAWK beacon is a pedestrian traffic control device used to assist people with safely crossing busy streets. A HAWK beacon only operates when it is activated by a pedestrian. This allows traffic to move freely for most of the day while providing a safe crossing when needed.


The first HAWK beacon for Tacoma will be installed on East Portland Avenue near First Creek Middle School. Project construction is expected to begin in late August and is anticipated to be completed by the start of school on Thursday, September 5th.


How does a HAWK beacon work?



What are some safety tips?

Encountering the HAWK beacon when driving:

  • When the HAWK beacon is not in use, the signal will be dark. Traffic should move like normal.  
  • Drivers must stop and wait when the beacon is a solid red.
  • A flashing red light means that drivers must stop, but after stopping the driver may proceed if the pedestrian or bicyclist has crossed and it is now safe to continue driving.
  • If you are not the first car in line, you have to stop again before proceeding through the flashing red light.

Using the HAWK beacon when walking or biking:

  • Always look both ways before crossing and stay alert as you cross the street.

Download the HAWK Beacon Poster 

Download the HAWK Beacon Rack Card 


Why install a HAWK beacon?

HAWK beacons provide safer crossing alternatives for people walking and biking than traditional crosswalks, especially in mid-block locations with heavy demand. Because the beacons are only activated when walkers or bicyclists are present, people driving experience minimal delays. 


All of this amounts to easier crossings on busy streets for people walking and biking. Data also suggests that HAWK beacons create safer crossings, reduce crashes, and increase driver compliance with crosswalk laws.


Additional Information

For additional information contact the City's Project Manager, Darius Thompson by email or at (253) 573-2410.