Greenwood wants flashing lights for safety
Greenwood Elementary asked the Morgan County School Board for flashing warning lights to alert motorists of their approach to the school zone.
Their request came at the Greenwood Elementary local school improvement council presentation at the school board’s February 19 meeting, which was held at the school. The issue has been a long-standing concern.
Traffic flies along Route 13 (Winchester Grade Road) in front of the school, said Greenwood Elementary Principal Barbara Miller. There are dips in the road that obscure small vehicles from being seen until they are almost at the intersection of where vehicles pull out from the parking lot to Route 13.
Former Greenwood Principal and current school board member John Rowland was injured in a car accident as he was pulling out of the school parking lot over eight years ago.
Rowland’s vehicle was t-boned by another vehicle at the intersection when he couldn’t pull back into the lot in time. Rowland had to be extricated from the wreck by South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company members.
To make it safer, they have buses come in on the upper side of the parking lot near the school fence and drop kids off, Miller said.
They also have markings on the road and driveway in the upper parking lot near the fence so cars won’t park there and obscure the view for drivers that are pulling out of either the upper or lower parking lots.
The school has requested that the state traffic engineer do a preliminary assessment. Factors that will be evaluated are the average speed, daily traffic rate and the layout of the land and road near the school, Miller said.
The flashing lights would cost around $10,000 each. Miller said the school would need two of them, one for each direction. They are exploring safety grants and other funding sources that could help fund the lights, said Miller.
She didn’t foresee the maintenance costs for the lights being much, especially if they went with solar-powered lights. Costs would involve electricity if electric-powered lights were chosen and paying for someone to set the light activation schedule which would take into account spring break and holidays.
Miller would also like to see a corner of the small bank by the mailbox excavated out to help with the view of the roadway when pulling out. The bank is only a foot or two high, but it also impedes vision a little, she said.
They appreciate that some motorists slow down when approaching the school, but some drivers don’t, Miller said. If they see excessive driving that puts kids in jeopardy, they do report it.
Miller advises parents and school visitors to hesitate a second and look again before they pull out onto the road. If a car is hidden in the road dip, it only takes a moment for it to emerge from the dip to be seen.
Miller said she worries about families pulling out of the parking lot with babies in car seats and their children in the vehicle as well as their school kids on buses and employees.
“We don’t want to see anyone else get hurt. What’s a life worth?” Miller said.