At Mayor Don Wesely's direction, the City Public Works and Utilities Department has made improvements to increase student safety at the intersection of 20th and South streets near Prescott Elementary and is working to improve school crossing safety at Arnold Elementary, 5300 West Knight Drive, where a child was struck by a vehicle last month.
"The safety of our children is important, and the City will do what it can to fix problem areas," said Mayor Wesely. "Getting our kids to and from school safely still depends on motorists watching for pedestrians and driving responsibly."
Beginning Monday, January 6, pushing the crosswalk button will turn on a pair of lighted signs that will prohibit traffic on 20th Street from turning through the crosswalk on South Street when traffic on South Street is stopped for pedestrians. Previously, when a pedestrian pushed the button to cross South Street, drivers on 20th Street would turn onto South, many times coming dangerously close to school children in the crosswalk.
City Council member Jonathan Cook, who represents the southwest district, said he will continue to work with parents, school officials and City staff to pursue all options for making the crossing of South Street safer for children.
One sign will prohibit left turns for southbound vehicles on 20th Street approaching South Street, and the other will prohibit right turns for northbound vehicles on 20th Street approaching South Street. If the crosswalk button is not pushed, the turns will be permitted.
City Council member Annette McRoy, who represents the northwest district, and City staff are also working with school officials and the neighborhood association to determine if a second marked and signed crosswalk is appropriate for the Arnold Elementary area. Scott Opfer of the Public Works and Utilities Department said officials are eager to receive feedback prior to making any changes because the potential changes could affect parents' regular pick-up and drop-off routines. In order to implement another crossing on West Knight Street between Arnold Heights Park and the existing marked school crossing at Northwest 53rd Street, changes would have to be made which would affect the pick-up and drop-off zone, as well as the school bus zone located directly in front of the school.
Every elementary school in Lincoln has a "Recommended Safe Walking Route" map for students who walk to school and a "Recommended One-way Pick-up and Drop-off Plan" for those students being driven to school. They were developed by the Public Works and Utilities Department in conjunction with the individual schools to provide parents and school officials with another tool for getting the children to school safely. The map and the driving plan are a part of the annual "School Crossing Protection Manual" which is updated every summer and is available through the individual school. It can also be found at City libraries and on the City website at www.lincoln.ne.gov.