OCT 11, 07 LTE

An hour in the life of an intersection

Between 7:10a.m. and 8:10a.m. every school morning, about 8 children cross through or walk along the intersection of Robertsville Rd. and Illinois Ave. That number can somewhat vary from morning to morning as there are at least 10 others who cross periodically.

During this same hour at this same location, over 3,000 vehicles pass through at average speeds that easily exceed the 45mph limit. At least 35 multi-ton trucks pass through hauling materials such as cinder block, dirt, chemicals, and heavy machinery. Furthermore, on any given morning during just this one hour, between 15-20 vehicles run through red (not yellow) lights – sometimes in packs of up to 4 at a time.

Compounding the danger are the numerous unsafe actions taken by both the pedestrians and the motorists. In the past 6 weeks, I’ve observed such acts as a car turning into an oncoming traffic lane instead of waiting for me to completely cross the street; children darting across the street in the middle of a green light and against a “don’t walk” sign (remember, I have no authority to prevent this); and, a big-rig that kept rolling into the crosswalk during a red light as I was walking in front of it and would have hit me had I not stepped aside.

Picture all of this activity as our children make their way to school and keep in mind that, as of today, it is still dark until around 7:25a.m. and there are no flashing warning signs in place to slow traffic.

By now, you may be wondering what our local government is doing to address this and other similar situations. I’ve been informed that both the city and the schools are working together and I have no reason to doubt this. However, I am concerned at how quickly and effectively changes will be made since this problem has been in existence for well over a year and there appear to be two factors that are directly impeding a real solution.

The first of which is the lack of police presence. I’ve seen many police cars drive through this intersection and sometimes position themselves directly in front of the middle school; however, no cop has sat directly at this intersection to observe all of the aforementioned traffic violations.
The ORPD has explained to me their logic in not doing this, but I still believe that, even if done sporadically, it would reduce the danger factor immensely.

The second concern I have is that Dr. Bailey continues to avoid taking ownership of a problem that he has, in large part, created. He’s made numerous statements that crossing guards are solely the city’s responsibility. However, in all of my communications with the city, not one person has verified this to be true. To the contrary, I have learned that our school system did once employ crossing guards, and according to a myriad of sources, not the least of which is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school systems all over the country do so as well.

Not only has Dr. Bailey pointed the finger at the city, but he has also taken great measures to prevent those who may most want to help from doing so. According to Dr. Bailey himself, he has specifically instructed his staff to refrain from assisting these children, citing liability concerns. Maybe it’s just me, but it certainly sounds like children’s lives are taking a back seat to legalism.
It’s time to set the excuses aside and make all of our children’s safety a priority. You can bet that if the state or feds mandated it, these problems would be non-existent. But since they haven’t, it seems that only citizens have the power to force a solution into reality. Please urge our elected officials to make immediate, responsible changes and visit http://protectoakridgekids.blogspot.com/ to learn more.

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