City installs flashing crosswalk beacons
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:47 AM
MARYSVILLE City workers installed flashing crosswalks signs at five local elementary schools last week, sending a reminder to drivers to be extra careful in the posted school zones.
Meanwhile a couple of local residents are wondering if Snohomish County will be making any improvements to the road where Marysville-Pilchuck High School sits. In October 2005 a student was hit by a school bus while crossing 108th Street NE, heightening safety concerns.
The $35,845 Marysville project was funded by a grant from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission. The 10 lights, two on either side of the main approaches, alert drivers to the school zones outside of Liberty, Allen Creek, Marshall, Sunnyside and Kellogg Marsh elementary schools. According to state law the zones extend 300 feet in either direction from marked crosswalks.
The Marysville Police Department took the occasion to remind drivers that the 20 mile per hour limit is in effect whenever the lights are flashing. Traffic Sergeant Doug Lee said the law can be enforced whether children are visibly present or not. The flashing beacons are an extra safety measure and drivers should consider them a timely reminder to be safe around schools at all times. The flashing lights will operate for a set time before and after classes are dismissed, according to city traffic engineer John Tatum.
But a couple of miles away, several parents are complaining because county engineers have not made any substantial improvements to the road frontage at the states second-largest high school. When Keito Swan was hit by a school bus on the morning of Oct. 25, 2005, both the Marysville School District and Snohomish County worked to assure residents that the street was safe. Looking back at more than 15 years of data, the accident was the only one on the mile-long road. But angry parents demanded changes and more street lights were installed along the corridor.
Kelly Nelson drives her son to M-P every morning and she said that when she pulls out of the school driveway on 55th Avenue NE, she often cant see approaching traffic. Many students park off campus on the gravel strip on the north side of 108th, despite plenty of student parking on campus, and those cars block her view. There are other things that worry Nelson and she has written a letter to the newspaper to complain.
I cant believe that after somebody got hit, they haven done anything about it, Nelson said. Its crazy.
Many new houses are being built nearby and that will only increase the number of students walking to school each morning. She wants a new, lighted crosswalk installed, with a flashing beacon.
It shouldnt cost too much money to put a new light or a crosswalk in there, Nelson said.
Kaori Tutewohl is Swans mother, and she said she hasnt heard anything from Snohomish County since settling with the school district for $800,000 after her sons accident. An investigator with the Snohomish County Sheriffs Office found Swan to be at fault, but the Marysville School District and its insurance pool agreed to settle their share of a $25 million lawsuit.
Tutewohl said new streetlights installed have helped a great deal, but those were only installed on existing stanchions, leaving some areas in the dark. She would like to see more poles installed, with lights to cover those areas.
Its getting dark and foggy, Tutewohl said.
The county also promised more sidewalks for the street, she added.
That hasnt happened yet.
While the Swan suit is still pending against the county, engineers are mulling some modest changes to 108th Street, according to Dale Valiant, traffic investigator with the Snohomish County Public Works Department. The main plan is to create pedestrian walkways on the south side of 108th Street to funnel foot traffic to 55th Avenue, where the main entry to the high school is.
The focus is to bring pedestrians down to one point, so there wont be any random crossings, Valiant said. That is what the school district has said it would like to see, he added.
Kids being kids, he said there would likely still be students running across the street regardless of what the county or the school district does. For now planners are examining how much right-of-way they would need to acquire to complete the sidewalks.
The Marysville School District risk management supervisor said those improvements are precisely what they have asked the county for. The 80-acre campus is more than a high school and serves as a community center for the many athletic and social gatherings, according to Greg Kuehn. The district welcomes anything that would improve pedestrian safety.