A bevy of parental concerns and a near miss incident this fall has caused the St. Michael-Albertville school district to look into enhanced safety options near Middle School East, at the intersections of Naber Avenue and Frankfort Parkway AND Naber Avenue and 47th Street NE, which is one block north of Frankfort Parkway.
The school district contacted Wright County and the city of St. Michael about their concerns, and the county agreed to conduct a study. Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said the study revealed there is not enough traffic to warrant a stop light or a roundabout, but the county said they thought a flashing pedestrian light at the crosswalks would be the best option. The light would not flash continuously; rather, it will only flash when the button is pushed by a pedestrian.
“We talked a lot about how if it’s flashing continuously, then people get used to it and just drive right through it,” Foucault said.
There is already a crossing guard at the intersection of 47th and Naber, which spans four lanes of traffic and has a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Foucault said there are 37 or 38 students who walk to Middle School East from this area, but she said additional students who have bus transportation may also be choosing to walk.
Another such flasher is located on County Road 35 and First Street, near St. Michael Elementary School. The STMA school district paid for 50 percent of the $8,000 cost for that pedestrian flasher in 2004, but they would pay 25 percent of these flashers, with Wright County picking up 50 percent of the cost and the city of St. Michael the other 25 percent. The school’s cost is $3,750.
The district will also be responsible for 25 percent of the maintenance costs. Foucault said they have paid under $600 in maintenance costs for the other flasher over the past 12 years.
“We’re anxious because we do get a lot of parent calls and concerns about that,” said Middle School East principal Jenny Kelly. “Especially on days (like today) where it was as slippery as it was. This was certainly the best option of all the options we looked at.”
Foucault said the flasher will be installed this spring, and that students will be informed about the new safety feature and how to use it. She said there would still be a crossing guard at Naber and 47th.