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Hampton considers options to control speeding near schools

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hampton Township School District officials are waiting for an engineering study and additional information before making a final decision on how best to control speeding on the roads students walk to get to the district's schools.

Hampton Township School District officials started looking into ways to slow motorists near district schools after concerned parents came to a board meeting in June to question pedestrian safety along McCully Road.

Following the discussion, district officials charged engineers at The Gateway Engineers Inc, of Pittsburgh, to prepare an engineering report for the placement or replacement of reduced speed limit signs at Hampton High School, Wyland Elementary School and Poff Elementary School and the establishment of a school zone along McCully Road. The report is expected by the board's October meeting at the latest.

School board member Bob Shages inventoried each of the district's buildings to determine what is currently in place and was surprised by what he found.

“There seems to be great inconsistencies in our signage from school to school,” Shages said.

Shages said in general the township is not conducive to walking. There are few if any sidewalks and sometimes nonexistent shoulders on the roads.

“We have a situation that no matter how many signs we put out there — I'm all for signs, let's do this right — that might not be the core issue,” he said. “We may want to suggest the safest walking route for kids.”

Initial plans to install flashing school zone lights were put on hold after the initial estimates made some school board members hesitant of the up-front costs to move forward with the project and looking at alternative designs.

The estimates for engineering costs for the placement of flashing school zone lights totaled $12,500 with an additional cost of $18,000 per school for the purchase of flashing school zone lights.

Central Elementary School, located along Middle Road, is the only district building that currently has flashing school zone lights.

While Mary Alice Hennessey, a school board member, said it seemed unlikely the board would commit to installing flashing school zone lights, she still wanted to have all of the cost information for all options to be able to make an informed decision.

“I know we're not looking to spend any more than we have to, but I feel we should have all the data,” Hennessey said.

School Board Vice President Bryant Wesley said the board will wait for the engineering report before moving forward with plans to decrease speed along McCully Road with signs. He also said there is the possibility of creating an optional bus stop for students whose parents feel it is not safe to walk to school.

“I think everyone on this board is a parent and safety is most important,” Wesley said. “But, we need to make sure what we're doing is addressing the issue.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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