Drivers could see slower speed limits near Roanoke City schools

School board passes resolution to lower speed limits

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Public School officials want to lower speed limits near elementary and middle schools.

Tuesday, the school board unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a proposal to reduce speed limits from 25 to 15 miles per hour during pickup and drop-off times.

"I think that would be great if they did that because there's so many that drive really fast," said Sarah Jones, a mom whose three boys all go to city schools. "There are a lot of kids that walk through those crosswalks."

Kalley Gabrielson has two kids younger than 4 years old and one on the way. She said she's terrified of an accident.

"It's definitely nerve-wracking," Gabrielson said. "That's the biggest worry I think I have about school."

The district talked with police and asked the city for a traffic engineering study. The proposal was based on the results of that study.

New speed limits would affect streets near 22 elementary and middle schools, including Highland Park, Crystal Spring and Breckinridge.

"This is not about revenue. We're not going to make a lot of money writing tickets," said Mark Jamison, the manager for the Roanoke City Transportation Division. "This is about pedestrian and school children safety."

Not all speed limits will change. Some schools already have a 15 mile per hour limit during school flasher operation hours. Busy streets including Williamson Road and Orange Avenue will stay at 25.

"(It) doesn't have that big an effect on overall travel time," Jamison said. "Heaven forbid we actually have an accident, but a car that's traveling 25 miles an hour versus 15, the impact of that collision with a pedestrian at 15 is much less significant."

The biggest drop would be from 30 to 15 mph on 9th Street near John P. Fishwick Middle School.

Gabrielson said enforcing the new speed limits could be a challenge.

"Maybe if there's some tickets in place or some kind of warning systems," Gabrielson said. "I think that will help"

Jones said it will be up to school crossing guards, police and drivers to make sure everyone follows the new speed limits.

"Save a little extra time, leave a little earlier and put yourself in those parents' shoes or in those kids' shoes," Jones said. "You want to be able to feel safe getting back and forth from school."

The proposal will go to Roanoke City Council for a vote June 3. If approved, the city would install new speed limit signs by the start of the new school year this fall.

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