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Creating safe school zones goal of Hampton board

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:05 p.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Hampton Journal
Hampton Township School District officials are looking into creating school zones and reduced speed limits at three of its schools, including along McCully Road by Hampton High School where there currently is no established school zone.

Hampton Township School District officials are taking the initial steps to establish state-approved school zones at three of its buildings and reduce the speed limit during the start and end of the school day to increase safety.

On Oct. 14, the school board planned to vote on a plan that would allow the district to have school-zone signs and reduced-speed-limit signs installed at Poff and Wyland Elementary schools and along McCully Road near Hampton High School if approved by PennDOT and the township council.

The plan comes after the culmination of months of research. Hampton Township School District officials started looking into ways to slow motorists near district schools after parents came to a board meeting in June to question pedestrian safety along McCully Road.

Michael Haberman, with The Gateway Engineers Inc. of Pittsburgh, prepared maps of the sign plan for the three schools and maps of the walking routes for students at the schools.

The two maps for each school, in addition to a traffic engineering study, are the three things required by PennDOT to establish a school zone.

Haberman said while there currently are school-zone and reduced-speed-limit signs at Poff and Wyland Elementary schools, they are not in compliance with state regulations, or they are deteriorating or missing.

The cost to purchase and install all of the necessary signs at the three schools is about $5,000.

School board members decided not to move forward with initial plans to install flashing school-zone lights after cost estimates totaled about $20,000 per school.

There are 15 students who walk to school at Poff Elementary, 12 students at Wyland Elementary and 16 students who walk to Hampton High School. However, Jeff Kline, director of administrative services and transportation, said after he sent letters to all of the families with students who walk to school offering bus service, seven high school students now are riding a bus to school.

“It's another option,” Kline said. “This is something I will keep doing, though I'm not going to take away people's walking rights.”

School board member Gail Litwiler said the fact that no students at Poff and Wyland took up the district's offer for busing indicated to her that perhaps families didn't see the same pedestrian safety issues near the elementary schools as is seen along McCully Road by the high school.

A traffic report completed by the Hampton Township Police Department during August and September outlined the results of the eight to 18 traffic details conducted at each of the district's five schools. Police issued nine warnings and four citations at the high school, 18 warnings at the middle school, one warning and four citations at Central Elementary, no violations at Poff Elementary and five warnings and one citation at Wyland Elementary.

Pam Lamagna, school board member, said she was in favor of moving forward to install the school-zone and reduced-speed- limit signs and continue to offer the option of bus services.

“I like the idea of putting this plan to work and send letters every year,” she said.

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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