By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
As part of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) project in Pierz, student crossing signs have been put into place near the three schools – Holy Trinity School, Pioneer Elementary and Healy High.
The lights on the signs near Holy Trinity are smaller light emitting diode (LED) lights that flash, and those near Pioneer and Healy, are much larger lights atop the pedestrian crossings.
The lights flash twice a day for a period of time, when students are arriving at school and when they are leaving, alerting motorists to use extra caution.
During the day, however, the lights are dormant, and should someone need to cross the street, there is currently no way to activate the lights.
Pierz Public Works Director Bob Otremba told the City Council he had received requests to put the pedestrian-activated buttons on the light systems.
“We elected not to put the push-button poles by the schools,” said Otremba.
However, the poles were wired to accommodate the feature should it be added in the future.
“We opted not to, because they’re programmed for the start and stop times of school,” said Council Member Mike Menden.
The cost to put the pedestrian-activated buttons in place on all of the pole lights was estimateed at $3,000 – $5,000, plus engineering costs, Otremba told the Council. Otemba said they were looking at the lights by Holy Trinity and by the main entrance of Healy, at the crossing of Kamnic and First Street South, specifically.
Council Member Stephanie Fyten suggested staff contact the schools to see whether they would be interested in picking up the cost.
“It’s for the safety for the school,” said Fyten. “Ask if they want to commit money toward it if they want it.”
Menden suggested the schools may have access to a grant to help pay for the upgrade.
Council Member Matt Bell asked whether the timer could be set to flash at other times during the day, which Otremba said he would look into.
Bell noted people are creatures of habit. “If they get used to seeing the flashing lights and know kids are there, maybe if there are no lights, they would go through without looking for kids,” he said.
City Administrator Anna Gruber was asked to contact the schools for input.