Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson says he wants the city to pursue new methods of protecting the crossing guards who help children safely travel to and from school every day. City leaders said they have …
Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson says he wants the city to pursue new methods of protecting the crossing guards who help children safely travel to and from school every day. City leaders said they have received ongoing reports about a crossing guard nearly being struck by vehicles on Highway M.
Truesdale provides crossing guards at three locations, including the intersection of Laura Street and Highway M, which groups of children use to walk to and from Rebecca Boone Elementary and Black Hawk Middle School. The intersection is close to a curve in the highway that reduces visibility for drivers traveling eastward, which increases the risk of an incident involving drivers that are speeding or inattentive.
Mayor Watson said during a Feb. 22 public meeting that he wants to make the issue a priority after a recent close call in which a crossing guard was nearly hit by a car.
“I’m trying to wrack my brain to figure out a way to get traffic to slow down there,” Watson commented. The mayor proposed two potential solutions: lighted signs that warn drivers of how fast they’re going, and double-staffing the crossing at Laura Street.
Previously, the city of Truesdale has borrowed an electronic sign that measures and displays the speed of vehicles. Watson said that caused a notable reduction in speeding along Highway M, and that he would like the Truesdale Board of Aldermen to consider purchasing permanent sign installations.
For the additional crossing guard, Watson said he would like crossing guards to enter Highway M from both directions, making them more noticeable and preventing vehicles from trying to skirt around a crossing guard.
Watson noted that the city’s current crossing guards are partly paid for by the Warren County R-III School District, but that Truesdale shouldn’t make that a requirement for hiring another guard.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to paying for it all on our own, just to know that the kids and the crossing guards are going to be safe,” Watson commented.
Truesdale aldermen agreed that the intersection is a safety risk.
“That is a congested area right there. If there’s going to be an accident, that’s where it’s going to be,” commented Alderman Robert Green. He and other aldermen asked whether a stop sign or traffic light would be appropriate at the intersection.
Public Works Director Mark Bennett replied that since Highway M is a state-owned road, the city would need approval from MoDOT for any traffic control devices. And MoDOT is notoriously resistant to new traffic control, Bennett said.
Police Chief Casey Doyle said a very brief search of equipment vendors had uncovered electronic, pole-mounted speed notification signs that can be purchased for about $2,800 to $3,400 each. However, Doyle noted that driver distraction may be the greater worry.
“I don’t know that speed is the issue here, so much as people not paying attention,” Doyle commented. “The incident I’m aware of, we could see on video ... it looked like 25 mph, just driving. But there’s a couple signs that do flash and measure speed. That’s maybe something as an attention getter.”
City leaders directed staff to start a trial run of having two crossing guards at the Laura Street intersection. Meanwhile, the city will partner with Boonslick Regional Planning Commission to erect a temporary speed notification sign and gather traffic data in order to assess the benefit of purchasing permanent signs.
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