Talking Florida Road crosswalk gives mixed signals


It’s great that Florida Road is finally finished and the new stoplight is working at the intersection of Florida Road and North College Drive. But why does the man speaking when you press the “Walk” button at the intersection crosswalk say “Florida” like the state and not “Floor-REE-da” like it is pronounced here? He must not be from these parts. – A Florida Road walker

Action Line lives for questions like this. So does Mrs. Action Line.

One of her favorite things to do is “walk around” and “check things out.”

Naturally, a talking box that botches a local street’s name is irresistible to the ever-curious Mrs. Action Line. Plus, it’s a chance to go for a long strolls, another of Mrs. Action Line’s preferred weekend activities.

Thus, an investigatory peregrination was made to the intersection of Florida Road and North College Drive.

In case you don’t know where that is, it’s in front of J. Bo’s Pizza & Rib Co.

Sure enough, there’s a high-tech crosswalk signal that speaks when you push the button.

The talking box advised potential pedestrians to wait. Which we did. Then waited. And waited some more.

Finally, the light changed and the box uttered the all-clear signal. Except a male computerized voice said “FLOOR-id-a,” not “Floor-REE-da.”

Dear readers, this proved to be a historical opportunity, pushing Action Line into to the realm of “new media” to document an audio typo.

Thus, we have a special video presentation of the curious crosswalk caper. You can see and hear the mildly embarrassing oversight by going to www.durangoherald.com. Click on Action Line, if you please.

A snarky video is posted in which you can hear a computer butcher the name of our well-known and modernized thoroughfare.

When the city was informed of its Floor-REE-da faux pas, the reaction was swift.

Gregg Boysen, city engineer, was aghast. He immediately crafted a plan to correct the egregious aural error.

“The audible crosswalk signal was purchased from Polara Engineering from all places Fullerton ‘California’ (they’re cousins of people from Texas),” Gregg wrote in an email.

“Obviously, people from California don’t know the correct pronunciation of Florida,” he quipped. “If they want to move here then they should learn how to fit in and talk like us.”

The Florida crosswalk signal is called a Navigator Accessible Pedestrian Signal, which “provides all pedestrians with equal access to information at signalized intersections,” according the Polara website.

“The Navigator is a highly reliable, vandal resistant APS that provides a vibro-tactile ADA compliant 2-inch push button with a raised directional arrow and audible sounds during all pedestrian phases,” it added.

Which is pretty cool, except if you live in a place that prefers the Spanish elocution of Florida.

All hope is not lost. Gregg made some calls.

“Sam Sanders from the Colorado Department of Transportation, which maintains traffic signals under contract with the city, was so upset he ordered the software to correct the mispronunciation,” our intrepid city engineer said.

“Soon you will hear Sam’s voice saying ‘Flo-REE-da’ like all good Durango natives.”

It seems half the town is in some sort of 12-step program, but we can rest assured that Durango was never hooked on phonics.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you push a crosswalk button several times in rapid succession thinking it will make the light change more quickly.

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