Future bright for school’s traffic safety

       The Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning had a traffic safety problem, and it was getting worse.

Outside the AcademyACL charter school on Chestnut Street stand two new flashing-light units (foreground facing northbound cars and background facing southbound). The stoplight had been installed when the school was still Pike Elementary.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Then this week a light came on.
       Two of them, actually - one unit flashing at traffic at either end of the charter school at 2510 N. Chestnut St. They're activated in time for school opening at 7:50 a.m. and letting out for the day at 3:10 p.m. The poles they're on also state that it's a school zone, the speed limit is 20 mph and fines will be doubled for speeders.
       The solar-powered lights were installed by city traffic crews, in response to worries from school officials and parents about speeding (sometimes reckless) drivers and even a recent close call with a passing car and couple of neighborhood children. A unique problem is the S-curve on Chestnut about two blocks north of the school. Southbound drivers slow for the curve, but are starting to speed back up to 30 mph or faster about the time they near the school, AcademyACL Principal Nikki Myers said.
       City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager heard the concerns at a meeting of school staff and parents Oct. 4, after which she pledged to have the flashing lights installed in two to four weeks.
       The city's keeping this promise made the school “very happy,” Myers said. Started three years ago, AcademyACL had inherited a pedestrian-activated stoplight on Chestnut in front of the school from when it was still Pike Elementary, but with no lights or signage telling approaching cars they were nearing a school, “we have been very concerned about the safety of our children, our neighborhood, pedestrians and local drivers at the most congested times of the day on Chestnut,” she said.
       Enrollment is another factor. Pike averaged about 130 students, while Academy-ACL's enrollment has now reached 270. When school lets out, cars waiting for students fill up the school parking lot; they're also lined up along Chestnut around to Melaney Lane and north and south of Chestnut on Van Buren Street.
       Such numbers, combined with the Chestnut speeders, create “a situation that terrifies us,” Myers told Krager at the meeting.

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