Facebook Twitter

FATALITY DRAWS ATTENTION TO HAZARDOUS SCHOOL AREAS

SHARE FATALITY DRAWS ATTENTION TO HAZARDOUS SCHOOL AREAS

Concern for pedestrian safety at Harry S. Truman Elementary School is spreading to other school areas since 9-year-old Shannon Kinder was killed there by a pickup truck Oct. 5.

Residents near the school want to see a pedestrian bridge built across 4700 South, where the school is situated at 3200 West, and Salt Lake County has agreed to take the lead in coordinating efforts with West Valley City and the Granite School District in the event a study determines a bridge is needed.All of the entities involved would have to help pay for the structure, Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu said.

But the attention to traffic problems near Truman Elementary has brought responses from residents near other schools with crossing hazards - something officials expected would happen.

"Those calls started Tuesday," said Frank Willardsen, Granite School District assistant superintendent for administrative services. He said he's heard from people who live near West Lake Junior High, Hunter High - which is still under construction - and people whose children cross both 3200 West and 3900 South while traveling to and from school.

Salt Lake County Public Works Director Terry Holzworth said the county has people evaluating school crossings in unincorporated areas of the county. Schools where safety concerns exist will be put on a list that will be prioritized to show where the needs are the greatest.

Truman Elementary will surely be on that list, Holzworth said, but how it will rank in priority compared to other schools with potential safety deficiencies won't be known until the list is finished in mid-November.

Last week, Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward said his officers already have identified 18 schools with crossing problems.

Willardsen said the school district doesn't keep a priority list for safety improvements. It looks at safety concerns and makes decisions about hazardous busing areas and crossings when schools are first built, but afterward looks to the recommendations from law enforcement agencies, municipal planners and PTA groups when concerns arise.

"There are many, many hazardous areas," Willardsen said, adding that he will be anxious to see the county's priority list. "We would want to get that list and give our input. We know there are lots of situations that are not good for pedestrian safety."

"Streets and crosswalks are really not Granite's property or responsibility," he said. "It's a community issue more than an education issue." Like the complaining residents, the school district has no regulatory control, "But we want our concerns to be known."

The district would consider helping with the $300,000 cost if it is asked by the county, Willardsen said, "But we haven't budgeted to do such a thing." Without a budget for pedestrian bridges, money would have to come from some other project."

Salt Lake County doesn't have money budgeted for a bridge, either. Shimizu said bridge money would have to come from the county's municipal services fund, which is already on a three-year grease skid toward bankruptcy.