New school speed zones established in Eugene as school year begins

By Alisha Roemeling, The Register-Guard – OCT. 1, 2016

With the 2016-17 K-12 school year in full swing, traffic is moving slower in some areas of Eugene not only because of the prevalence of more school ­busses and students, but ­several new school speed zones and speed signs, as well.

Three new school zones have been or are in the process of being implemented in the south Eugene area, the city said.

The most notable may be the school speed zone signs that will be equipped with flashing beacons near Camas Ridge ­Elementary School on 30th ­Avenue, where at least four new signs are being erected.

Eugene Public Works determined earlier this year that it needed to make school zone ­improvements near Camas Ridge after parents and school administrators requested the changes. The high volume of traffic in the area influenced the decision, city officials said Friday.

A flashing stoplight crosswalk at 30th Avenue and University Street, installed two years ago, is used often, said Brian Richardson, a spokesman for Eugene Public Works.

The pedestrian-activated red light on 30th was installed in October 2014 to help the growing number of students crossing the busy street, after community members complained the crossing was unsafe. Lane Community College is over the hill on 30th Avenue, where the speed limit is 55 mph, and drivers coming down the hill toward University often travel much faster than 20 mph.

Before the 2014 installation of the traffic light, a pedestrian bridge over 30th Avenue and one marked crosswalk with flashing lights east of Hilyard Street had been built in the area to help manage pedestrians and cars. The pedestrian bridge was problematic, however, as it was difficult for families with strollers, bikes or other large items to use.

This fall, to further improve the area, uphill from the 30th and University intersection the city is installing school speed zone signs that will have flashing lights, alerting drivers of the 20 mph speed zone. The new school speed zone signs are designed to flash during times children are scheduled to arrive at or leave the area.

The city has erected several school speed zone warning signs on 30th Avenue to indicate a school zone.

“I’m always going to advocate for people to drive slower, but if it’s not posted it’s not posted, and people aren’t required by law to go 20 miles per hour or slower,” Richardson said.

The new flashing school speed zone lights will not work in conjunction with the existing stoplights at University Street and 30th Avenue, but the two will most likely flash at the same time, the city said.

“We hope to have that project completed within the next month, if not sooner,” Richardson said.

Meanwhile, the city has placed new school signs and speed zone signs near the boundaries of the Village School on 35th Avenue between Donald and Willamette streets as well as on Willamette Street from 35th Avenue to just north of 34th Avenue.

Richardson said at least four signs are placed in every school zone — two on each side of the road as drivers near the schools.

The first sign warns drivers of the upcoming speed limit, and the following sign shows where drivers should begin driving 20 mph or slower. Additional signs often are added in the area to mark where the school speed zone ends.

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