Llanos beacon installed

Badger Ridge Middle School students cross North Main Street after school Tuesday, June 11, with the assistance of crossing guards and light beacons. The beacons were installed the week before at the intersection of Llanos and North Main streets.

Two months after city leaders decided a flashing beacon was the best hope for improving safety near Badger Ridge Middle School, those beacons are operating.

It was just in time for the last few days of school, giving crossing guards and police now daily watching the intersection at North Main and Llanos streets a test run for next year.

While the city and school district might consider other long-term fixes for the busy intersection – particularly with the building turning into an elementary school in 2020 – alders felt an urgency to make some sort of change quickly after a 12-year-old was hit by a car while heading to a school event in the late afternoon in March.

The April 8 council debate over the various options – covering everything from temporary orange cones to tunnels or bridges – led to a consensus of installing an LED-based rectangular flashing beacon that would not only assist crossing guards during peak times but would help pedestrians at other times of day. It also happened to be relatively inexpensive, at around $40,000, and quick.

Part of the concern that was raised during the discussion was that the child was hit after crossing guards had left for the day and that drivers on Main Street – many of them commuting outside of town – tend to speed.

In the two months since, police have been adding patrols to that intersection and others near schools. The cost of overtime pay was determined to be within the department’s budget for the year, and part of the hope is that the continued presence during peak hours will establish better driver habits.

City officials expect to continue the discussion among themselves and with the school district throughout the next school year about other possible safety improvements, including traffic flow within and to the school, alternate exits and other traffic control devices.

Crossing guard Robert Kiesow said the combination of the beacon and increased police presence have increased safety for children during after school hours.

“The people driving on the road, they slow down and stop,” he said of the flashing beacons. “It’s a good deterrent, it’s not the cure.”

Email Verona Press editor Jim Ferolie at veronapress@wcinet.com.