The City of Longview is in its fourth year of a photo enforcement program aimed at slowing drivers in school zones. The Longview school zone speed photo enforcement began with two elementary schools, Mint Valley and Columbia Valley Gardens in 2011, and in 2013 the program was extended with the addition of three more elementary schools: Olympic, St. Helens and Kessler. These were all elementary schools with young children and unpredictable actions, especially with traffic concerns. Each of these schools also have crossing guards to help youngsters cross streets safely on their way to and from school. There has been great effort with the school district in educating our young children. In 2014 the City of Longview added another school to the program, Mark Morris High School, as recommended by the consultant firm, or suggested.
Since the start of the photo enforcement program, the police department has seen a positive change in driver behavior with less speeding by adult drivers. Could this possibly be due to the fact that the resulting fine lets people know the city is serious about student and pedestrian safety? Once fined, this may be a wake up call. In the Columbia Valley Gardens school zone, speeding vehicles were reduced by 28 percent and by 20 percent in the Mint Valley school zone. On average, vehicle violations decreased 20–32 percent in elementary school zones.
The City of Longview, using photo enforcement profits, will be upgrading all the elementary school zone with large crossing plaques and lights, and speed display monitors. Along with some of these improvements, it has been suggested that the city install a traffic signal at the present Mark Morris Court crossing. There are some concerns with this program that the community should address.
- To install this traffic signal, the city applied for a special grant and were awarded the grant this past year. The city will have to spend an extra $30,000 to install the light. After the signal is installed, the city will be responsible for maintaining the signal along with the usual expenses to operate the signal.
- Does installing the signal on 15th Avenue change the school zone? This is a major corridor and the new signal would be installed less than two blocks from Ocean Beach Highway.
- What is the purpose of a crosswalk at the Mark Morris Court roadway? This is from the school, which is more than 500 feet off of 15th Avenue, with the eastern designation of the crosswalk ending at the shopping center fence.
- Would it be advisable to mark 15th Avenue with school zone stripes? Would improved signage and flashing lights work better?
- Would a crosswalk located at the college and another at Ocean Beach Highway provide student with a safe crossing if they had business to take care of away from school? There is no signal at LCC or the intersection from town to the college.
- Would closing the campus for all students except those who make it to their senior year be an incentive?
- Would citizens approve another traffic signal in Longview, especially one located at 15th Avenue and the Triangle Mall?
- Would students, as well as adults, honor the traffic signal?
Please let me know of your concerns; this is your city and your children.
With regards to the closed campus program, I have noted that the expense to the school district prohibits this idea due to extra lunch programs and inter-school classes. Have we looked at incubator programs such as partnering with local diners, such as Subway, Nipp’s or Little Cesars Pizza, to partner with the school district? We could locate a facility in the school which would offer education opportunities in the field of small business, offering credit for classes. Great possibility for today’s small business and economy.
As far as traffic concerns with leaving the facility at Mark Morris and having to go all the way around the R.A.Long circle to get back to Cascade Way, why not exit the school from the back lot on to Ocean Beach Highway and take the turn lane to their destination?
One last thought, what is the purpose of students leaving campus just to congregate along a fence at the shopping center? Restaurant access can be gained at the LCC or Ocean Beach crosswalks. And with disturbing activities involving students, such as shootings and other activities, why take the risk of those atrocities taking place along a crowed fence line? (Don’t mean to be negative, but reality sinks in once in a while. )
Thank you for listening and please help make this a better community for all to enjoy. Keep tuned for more in the camera saga.
Kenneth R. Botero,
Longview City Councilor