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New safety signals light up school zones

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Jan 07 2014 11:20:58 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 11:21:31 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Safety signals that alert drivers to reduced-speed zones have been installed near two Missoula elementary schools. The signals are flashing yellow lights, also known as “bouncing ball’ signals.

The signs have been installed on Rattlesnake Drive near Rattlesnake School and on South Higgins Avenue near Paxson School. The speed limits on both streets near the schools are 30 miles per hour. However, when the lights flash, parts of the roads will become slow zones. Paxon’s zone during those times is set at 20 mph, while Rattlesnake’s zone is set at 25 mph.

The lights will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9: 00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 pm to 4:15 p.m. On Thursday afternoons, however, the lights will flash between 2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. because students get out early.  The signals won’t light up on holidays, weekends, or summer vacations.

The city and the Montana Department of Transportation shared the cost of the project. Missoula’s City Council’s Public Works Committee had asked the city’s engineering team to analyze speed zones around the city’s schools. Ultimately, the city deemed Rattlesnake and Paxson’s schools to be the ones that showed the most pressing safety issues.

NBC Montana visited Paxson on Tuesday to get reactions from parents. Most agreed that the signs will increase visibility on the road, and help keep their kids safe.

“It’s good, I just think it gives more visibility and makes more people slow down quicker,” said mother Romy Daniel.

“People go too quick, from the traffic circle through here, so it’s nice to remind people to slow down with the kids,” said father Rob Headley.

One babysitter, Mike Grey, told NBC Montana that he once had a close call on the road, so he’s happy to see the new signals up.

“I have been on the crosswalk and someone almost hit us, so, I think it’s a great idea,” said Grey.