School board to fight for lights

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 1998

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / January 21, 1998

RESERVE – With all of the growth that St. John the Baptist Parish isseeing, one can hardly expect it without a population increase.And that means an increase in traffic.

St. John School Board member Russ Wise suggested at Thursday night’smeeting that the school board petition the Louisiana State Department ofTransportation and Development for traffic lights to be installed in frontof East St. John High, West St. John High and Glade School.

Wise also suggested the board ask the DOTD for a reduced consistent speedlimit of 35 mph, instead of the current 45 mph that is in place near someschools.

Wise said that there are flashing caution lights at the Glade and East St.John, but they are the type attached to a sign that states “Speed Limit 45when flashing.”

“The only problem with that is that near the Glade they do not flash,”Wise said.

The new traffic lights, if the DOTD agrees, will be regular traffic lightswhich change from green to yellow to red. Wise even suggested that theprincipal have access to a switch inside the school that can turn them onduring peak travel times and back to flashing caution lights when trafficsubsides.

Another thing which concerns Wise is taking police officers away fromtheir jobs to control traffic near schools.

“All of these schools are on major highways,” Wise said. “And we have totake a sheriff’s deputy away from his duties who has other things on hisplate. It’s an inefficient use of manpower and it’s the most expensivetraffic control measure that I know of. If we put a traffic light in theirplace, the deputies could go on with what they were doing.”

But the DOTD may not go along with the school board. Wise said fromreports he got from central office administrators who spoke to the DOTDabout the subject, results didn’t seem to be swinging in the favor of theschool board.

Wise said the DOTD’s concern is that there is simply not enough traffic onthe crossroads to warrant traffic lights. “But those aren’t justcrossroads,” Wise said. “Those are schools.”

He added, “The whole point is to make it safe for everybody when they areleaving the school grounds or passing them.”

But Wise’s main concern is the safety of the students.

“I have seen near-collisions – one involving a school bus – just becausepeople aren’t looking,” Wise said. “I am very concerned. I’m afraid that wehave a tragedy waiting to happen unless we deal with the potential trafficproblems. All we need is a big yellow bus and an 18-wheeler to be at thesame place on Old 51. That’s a tragedy that no one should have tocontemplate.”

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