LINCOLN, Neb. — City engineers in Lincoln say they won’t follow an order from the City Council to create a school speed zone at an intersection near an elementary school because the designation would actually make the intersection less safe.
City engineer Lonnie Burklund told the council on Monday that engineering studies indicate drivers are less likely to pay attention to a slower school zone in the area in part because the school isn’t visible from the intersection in northeast Lincoln, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .
Instead, drivers would likely weave from lane to lane, brake hard and face potential rear-end crashes, he said. He said statistically, the potential of someone getting hit increases if the city were to designate a school speed zone at the intersection, of 84th Street and Leighton Avenue, which is near Kahoa Elementary School and Mickle Middle School.
Parents have been pushing for several years to make the intersection safer. The council wants to reduce the speed limit from 45 mph to 25 mph.
But Burklund said neither he nor his staff at the Public Works and Utilities Department will sign the required documents for the school-zone designation.
“As a licensed engineer, we have a duty to uphold the health and safety of the public,” he said.
Burklund said staff will look for other options. His department has so far increased the pedestrian crossing time for the intersection, and plans to prohibit a right turn on red for traffic going east and to touch up the crosswalk paint.
Still, Councilman Jon Camp said the city may have to hire an outside consultant who would approve the school speed zone. He said creating a school zone takes four to six months and would cost about $100,000.
Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm, who has been working on the issue with parents and school staff for several months, opposed the engineers’ decision to ignore the council. She noted there’s been a sharp increase in the number of children living in the area.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com