(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Last month a 17-year-old foreign exchange student was hit and killed while crossing the intersection outside of Doherty High School.
After this tragedy, the city and district pushed for change with the goal of implementing a school zone which would inform drivers to reduce speed and be cautious of children in the area.
“They would operate during the bell times just like they would at an elementary school,” City Traffic Engineer for the City of Colorado Springs, Todd Frisbie, said. “So there’s really what you currently see out there and what you’ll see in front of Doherty will pretty much be what you see everywhere across the city.”
The school zone would start at the beginning of the day when students arrive and at the end of the day, anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes after the last bell. Drivers going in either direction on Barnes Road will see a flashing light indicating they need to slow down.
“The flashers will essentially be installed essentially sort of just to the west of the school boundary and then just to the east of the eastern school boundary,” Frisbie said. “And then there will be one school flasher sort of in the middle of the road, you know, in the median between those two sets of flashers.”
Principal of Doherty High School, Lana Flenniken, sent out an email Wednesday morning to families informing them of the changes happening around the school.
The City provided an update on the construction process, with work beginning with pouring the bases for flashing light poles this week.
“This week we’ll have crews out there that are installing concrete… for the base to set the poles on,” Frisbie said. “Next week, our crews will be out there installing poles, the flashers, solar panels and other equipment with the idea that potentially they could be operational towards the end of next week or the early part of the following week.”
My Floral Shop is one business located in the shopping plaza across the street from Doherty. The owner, Brian Wilgus, has seen firsthand the dangers of this busy intersection.
“I’ve seen some close calls out there with kids crossing,” Wilgus said. “One day when I was pulling out, lady was turning and the light stays green as the kids are crossing and she almost [hit], luckily, she stopped in time.”
Wilgus is hopeful that this new safety measure will help prevent further accidents from occuring.
“Hopefully that helps slow them down,” Wilgus said. “I know some people just don’t pay attention to school zones, but hopefully this will make a difference. And yeah, slow them down out here with all the kids across the street.”
The City is working to identify other schools in the area where a school zone should be installed.
“As you can imagine, there are a few high schools here in Colorado Springs,” Frisibie. “So we’re going to be evaluating each… they’re in different areas of the city. And so, we’ll be evaluating things like speed, traffic crossings, and coming up with a procedure to help us prioritize the implementation of school zones elsewhere in the city.”