ENFORCE THE LAW
<– click to operate and interact
A large multi-lane roundabout is planned to be built by WV Division of Highways (DOH) this year adjacent to the impending Eastwood Elementary site at the intersection of WV 705 and US 119/Mileground Road. In fact, the new school site would lose land (2 acres) to the state by eminent domain, to create the intersection relocation and expansion. This sprawling roundabout with its divided highway spokes would cover an additional 2 acres, approximately, that border and entangle the Eastwood schoolgrounds.
State Law requires that roads bordering and extending 125 feet from schoolgrounds have a maximum speed limit of 15 mph, which would and should include the entire Mileground roundabout and all of its spokes and an additional stretch of WV 705:
§17C-6-1 (1) “Fifteen miles per hour in a school zone during school recess or while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours. A school zone is all school property, including school grounds and any street or highway abutting the school grounds and extending one hundred twenty-five feet along the street or highway from the school grounds.”
HOWEVER, the Law also provides that the head of the WV Department of Transportation (DOT), Secretary Paul A. Mattox, Jr., can override the 15 mph limit:
§17C-6-2. ”Whenever the state road commissioner [the Secretary of the DOT] shall determine upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that any speed limit set forth in this article is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist at any intersection or other place or upon any part of a highway, said commissioner may determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit thereat which shall be effective at all times or during hours of daylight or darkness or at such other times as may be determined when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected at such intersection or other place or part of the highway.”
Multi-lane roundabouts allow speeds of entry of 25-30 mph or higher: double the state mandated school zone speed limit.
What would DOT Secretary Maddox do? Would he raise the speed limit above 15 mph and thereby increasingly open the DOT to millions more in liability claims for potential injury or worse to the youngest of the schoolchildren, pre-kindergarten to fifth grade? Or would he leave the speed limit at 15 mph and inconvenience the flood of rush hours traffic that would exist by the school grounds throughout school opening and closing hours, as well as at recess hours?
This is the uncomfortable decision that Superintendent Frank Devono and the Monongalia County school board and the WV School Building Authority and the State Board (and Department) of Education and the State Attorney General’s office are forcing onto the Secretary of Transportation. This is the negligent and dangerous situation that county Superintendent Devono and Monongalia County Board of Education are imposing on the residents and commuters and children of the area and region. By state Rule, a new school is not allowed to be located next to arterial highways, but since Director Mark Manchin of the WV School Building Authority and other state officials are determined to allow Mon Schools to break that state Rule, should Mon Schools also be allowed to break the state law of school zone speed limits? Of course not. Instead, given the dangerous intersection and multi-lane highways, the school speed zone law should be intensively enforced.
Secretary Maddox should not raise the school zone speed limit, if the intersection school is allowed to open and operate. In that terrible case, the DOH and the DOT should strictly enforce a 15 mph speed limit there on the Mileground and on WV 705.
The roundabout intersection pictured (and activated with Flash) above and below is somewhat similar to the roundabout to be installed as the 705/119 intersection in having two four-lane spokes and two two-lane spokes. However, the 705/119 roundabout intersection may have additional lanes, and is now slated to have five lanes extending at least from the spoke going across the Mileground (US 119). Further, the 705/119 roundabout and highways will have much more traffic on them than pictured below, especially during the SIX hours of rush hours each and every school day: morning, noon, and afternoon.
As we subsequently noted:
The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) predicts in its analysis of the impending Eastwood Elementary schoolside arterial highways that:
“Crash experience is expected to increase” and “Capacity [congestion] issues at intersections may remain” … The DOH funded Mileground Traffic Report notes on page 21 that for the impending Eastwood schoolside “Five-Lane [highway]…vehicular conflicts and resulting crashes would be expected to increase when compared to the existing three-lane section and as traffic volumes grow.”
A quick look around the country shows what crashes and calamities one may expect:
“Mother’s Day Accident”:
“Bus Crash Kills”:
- Three-year-old girl killed crossing street by Hansen Elementary School.
Click below to operate and interact with the roundabout tutorial: