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Flashing signs could be in St. John Neumann’s future

St. John Neumann Catholic School could get two flashing school zone signs by the end of the year.

Mayor Eddy Ford instructed the town staff to prepare a plan for installing the signs on Grigsby Chapel Road at last week’s Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

Many of the school’s parents and principal Dotti Morris requested the town consider placing signs near the school because of safety issues.

“Other schools in Farragut have school zone signs, in fairness I think our children are entitled to the same level of safety,” one parent said.

The town’s engineering staff conducted a signal warrant study one morning near the end of September to see if the area met warrants for a traffic signal or flashing school zone signs and presented their findings to the FBMA.

According to the study, the school’s “morning rush alone is not enough to warrant a traffic signal at this location.”

The study also noted that flashing school zone signs are typically located on roadways upon which the school fronts. St. John Neumann fronts St. John Court, not Grigsby Chapel Road.

In addition, town engineer Darryl Smith said school zones are usually placed where motorist can expect to encounter students walking to school.

“I could not identify any students walking to school,” he said.

St. John Newmann parent Renee Hamilton said children have stopped walking to the school because it is dangerous in that area.

“Some kids who walked to school don’t because of the safety issue,” she said.

Smith estimated the cost of installing the flashing signs, along with additional hardware and signage would be approximately $6,000 to $7,000.

The installation plan will come before the FMBA for discussion at their next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15. If the town decides to install the signs, depending on equipment availability, they could be installed by the end of the year.

A speed study, which included placing a tube counter at three locations on Grigsby Chapel Road, was also conducted in June and July.

The study revealed that 85 percent of the monitored vehicles traveled 45 to 50 mph at all three locations. The speed limit on Grigsby Chapel Road is 40 mph.

Smith said the tube counter recorded some speeds at more than 80 mph and less than 9 mph, but those were “anomalies that occur when speeds are measured with a tube counter.”

Smith concluded that the area needed better enforcement of the speed limit.

“This is an enforcement issue,” Smith said, adding that a copy of the study had been sent to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department.

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