The following has been submitted to the OR City Council and the OR BOE. As you will see, progress has been made. But there is still so much more to do! Please continue to contribute in whatever ways you are able. The calls and emails that have been made to local officials are making a difference!
Greetings! I am happy to report on the progress that has been made regarding the dangers of our school children en route to and from school and I want to thank you all for your work together and encourage you to continue until all of our children are safe!
As some of you may be aware, I am continuing my work at the intersection of Robertsville and Illinois Ave every school morning. As per my initial conversation with the ORPD on Aug 28th, my role remains to simply walk with children (when they are agreeable) across a dangerous intersection in the hopes of modeling appropriate safety measures, providing added visibility to traffic, and educating them on safety issues. Ultimately, the children and drivers remain responsible for their actions, but hopefully my efforts will contribute in some small way towards a bigger solution. As I solicit assistance from other potential volunteers, I want to reassure you that I have not (and will not) interfere with traffic in any way, nor have I made statements to the contrary.
Notes of progress:
ó I understand from Mr. O’Connor that we can expect state approval for the installation of flashing yellow lights within the next 30 days. Thanks to both the COR and ORS on working together to make this happen. With both the logistical and financial burden being shared, this is truly a great example of teamwork!
ó Thanks to the COR for providing me with a vest! This will certainly enhance the safety of both myself and the children by increasing my visibility to traffic.
ó Thanks also to the city for addressing the inconsistencies in the light changes – this has helped tremendously in reducing the anxiety of kids who are in a rush to get to school.
ó Thanks to the PTSA for spreading the word about this dire need via the following email: “The crossing situation on Illinois Avenue has obviously been of much concern to the community. There is an opening for a paid crossing guard, but volunteers would be welcome as well. This is through the Oak Ridge Police Department, however, not the school itself. Anyone interested in either the paid position or just helping has a volunteer should contact the Police Department directly.”
ó I understand that, thanks to the ORS efforts, buses for elementary students will finally be reinstated October 15th. I remind you that this change, while positive, will not effect the majority of the children who are crossing both of these intersections.
ó Mr. Hensley suggested using traffic cameras to deter speeding. I’ve pasted the link to the proposed agreement between the City of Knoxville and RedFlex. If I’m reading it correctly, the cost to the city is minimal to none; instead, they have set up a method of payment based only on collected fees. Perhaps the COR could pursue something similar. http://www.cityofknoxville.org/purchasing/bids/0513_redlightcontract.pdf
ó Mr. Bailey has stated that the schools are constrained from hiring or providing crossing guards. The National Center for Safe Routes to School, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has put out some excellent information (including the “walking school bus” idea that Ms. Smith referenced.) on their website http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/guide/index.cfm. Of specific interest is the statement that “The hiring, training, supervising and funding of adult school crossing guards is typically the responsibility of local law enforcement agencies, traffic engineering departments, individual schools or school districts.” This indicates that it is perfectly acceptable and permissible for schools to have the authority to employ crossing guards. I strongly encourage the COR to give the schools full authority to hire and manage crossing guards, be they volunteer or paid employees, so that they may have the ability to more fully contribute in the manner they so desire.
ó The OR Turnpike/Illinois intersection remains unattended. I believe that Dr. Bailey referenced that someone would be monitoring it. Has this been projected to occur in the near future?
ó I have learned that there are a few children arriving at this intersection very early as they head to school to participate in extra-curricular activities. One, in particular, is a student at WillowBrook. I hope that this factor will be equally considered by all as we work towards a multi-faceted solution.
ó Often, children are confused about exactly where to walk; and cars frequently stop over the crosswalks. May I suggest painting slanted lines into the current crosswalks?
Further emphasizing the need for safe passage is the fact that the number of children who use this particular intersection continues to rise; with 7 new students this week alone, we are up to between 15-17 kids who cross periodically and the average being somewhere around 7 per morning. As you can tell, I am passionate about this subject and feel that 14 months without resolve is unacceptable. I am certain that this will no longer be the case as we continue to work expeditiously towards all-encompassing solutions.