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DESPITE UDOT PLAN, FLASHING LIGHTS WILL BE POSTED NEAR CROSSING

SHARE DESPITE UDOT PLAN, FLASHING LIGHTS WILL BE POSTED NEAR CROSSING

Flashing lights will be posted soon near a crosswalk where a 9-year-old girl was killed Oct. 5 - despite the likelihood that state transportation officials will soon establish a policy against having such lights near school crossings.

The action was announced Wednesday at a meeting of transportation, law enforcement, school and community representatives who discussed transportation problems children face while crossing 4700 South when going to and from Harry S. Truman Elementary School, 4639 S. 3200 West.Officials who met Wednesday also scheduled an Oct. 18 meeting at the school where they will be able to meet with area residents. The meeting will be at 7 p.m.

Debbie Ames, PTA president at the elementary school, and Gwen Scholes, a member of the Taylorsville-Bennion Community Council, presented officials with a list of safety concerns and requested improvements. Requested short-term improvements included signs and enforcement for a 20 mph speed zone during school hours, repainted curbs and crossings, flashing lights and additional buses for students who have to cross busy streets to get to school.

In the long term, the group requested a crossing bridge over 4700 South. The cost of a bridge would likely exceed $300,000. Karen Lyon, an aunt of the girl killed last week, said she has already talked with her neighbors about raising money.

Responding to the incident that left Shannon Kinder dead, County Commissioner Tom Shimizu said he has requested an inventory of all of the school crossings in unincorporated areas of the county. No device at a hazardous crossing can guarantee an accident won't happen, but they can help minimize the risk, Shimizu said.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward said he has already identified 18 areas where flashing signals should be installed in school zones. He added that he is gathering support from the law enforcement community for legislation that would require flashing lights at all school crossings. He promised a bill would be submitted during the next legislative session.

The rub with flashing lights is that state transportation officials are considering a policy that prohibits flashing lights near intersections with semaphores - based on an engineering opinion that the juxtaposition of lights can confuse motorists.

Hayward said Utah Department of Transportation officials should get an opinion from the law enforcement community before considering a policy against flashing lights.

Despite the opinion, Shimizu said flashing lights would be posted near the 4700 South crossings to the elementary school until the state takes official action. He said the lights will go up as soon as possible.

West Valley City, which controls the north half of 4700 South, will follow the county's lead and keep traffic signals uniform by also installing flashing lights on its side of the highway.

Terry Holzworth, the county's public works director, said the feasibility of a crossing bridge will be considered, but he also believes additional busing is needed.

Ames said parents of students living east of 2700 West want the buses now while other alternatives are being studied.

Truman Principal Gale Bateman said of the 976 students who attend Truman, 600 of them live south of 4700 South. Some 89 of those live too close to the school to have a bus available to them.