Keri Luedtke’s worst nightmare is that a child is going to get struck by a car while walking to school.
Luedtke joined a long line of parents and their kids as they crossed Jacoby Road north of Grandview Elementary School on the first day of school Tuesday.
The parents live at the Windshire subdivision and are concerned for their children’s safety as they cross Jacoby Road (off Weld County Road 15). The speed limit is 35 mph, but parents say motorists often go faster than that.
Parents would like to see more than the school crossing signs and crosswalks at the site. With more kids coming out of the growing subdivision, they want to see 20 mph flashing beacons and even a crossing guard. Grandview principal Dave Grubbs said he and Re-4 superintendent Karen Trusler and assistant superintendent Stephanie Watson have a meeting scheduled with town manager Kelly Arnold about the intersection.
“It’s a matter of life and death, to be totally honest,” said Luedtke, who has a first-grader and third-grader at Grandview. “Last year I saw a car nearly hit two kids going at least 45 mph. That was devastating to see. It was just really shocking. I just hope it doesn’t take somebody getting hit by a car before we can get some action taken there.”
Susan Frisch, who has a first-grader at Grandview, said nobody trusts letting their kid walk across Jacoby Road, which goes east and west.
“Even though there’s a crosswalk, nobody stops for it and nobody does the speed limit,” Frisch said. “They blaze through there and they never stop for people in the crosswalk. It’s dangerous. I don’t think there’s anybody who lets their kids cross that without a parent with them.”
A November 2010 traffic study/risk analysis by Loveland traffic engineers Delich Associates, paid for by the town of Windsor and the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District, recommended that “school zone ahead” signs be placed east and west of the Jacoby/Windshire intersection and “end school zone” signs be placed leaving the intersection. The town placed those signs at those locations. Also, a pair of crosswalks to the east and west of the Jacoby/Windshire intersection are marked.
According to Dennis Wagner, the town’s director of engineering, the $7,969 study also looked at Windsor Charter Academy and Mountain View Elementary School along with Grandview. Called the Greeley Methodology because the rating system was developed in Greeley, the safety hazard rating at the Windshire intersection was a 24.
Wagner said the Delich study concluded that as Windshire developed further and traffic increases on Jacoby Road, the hazard rating will be 36-40 with more than 25 elementary students crossing the road. When this occurs, Delich recommended that 20 mph flashing beacons be installed and an adult crossing guard be considered.
“Us as parents feel that one child is enough, especially with safety and lights and letting cars know,” said Renee Cobb, whose two girls attend Grandview. “Even though there are signs, a flashing light would be helpful. I don’t let my children — my oldest is in fourth grade — walk to school by themselves because of just that one crossing. We are concerned, and I know that our principal (Dave Grubbs) is just as concerned and wants to help us in any way.”
Grubbs is trying to work with the town and parents.
“My take on it as the principal is making sure I’m educating all those families over there that we do care about their safety and getting across, and we’re working with the town and we’re working with the police,” Grubbs said.
Greg Geelan, whose two daughters attend Grandview, said there are 170 homes in Windshire that are currently occupied.
“They’re always building new houses. It’s supposed to be 240 when they’re done, and they’re always building five to 10 houses at a time,” Geelan said. “When they did the studies, we’ve grown significantly since then.”
Geelan said it’s not safe.
“We’ve been in the crosswalk and cars go right in front of us right through the crosswalk,” Geelan said. “They either don’t see us or they don’t care. It happens a lot. Cars are speeding on Jacoby all the time. I’d say half the cars aren’t going the speed limit.”
Wagner said looking at the intersection again is in the discussion stages.
“That subdivision has been building houses quite rapidly over the past two years. I think we’ll need to go out there in the morning and then the afternoon and watch and count the number of kids crossing the street, and get a sense for the traffic volumes,” Wagner said. “Usually, you want to wait after school has been in session for a while because the first day things are different, things are new. After they get in kind of a groove, you do a study. We might want to bring Delich back just to do a count and compare it with his numbers from two years ago and get his recommendation.”
One big challenge Grubbs sees is that the land between Windshire and the school has not been developed, and the students are crossing what is essentially an unofficial road.
“It’s not an established town road or street that requires maintenance based on the codes, however it is a vital artery for the school and the people using the school to use it. If they close that off all together and they re-route families clear down to (WCR) 15, we don’t even have any bike lanes,” Grubbs said.
Grubbs said the town has worked with the school to paint the crosswalks and put up the school zone signs, and it also put down a crushed pavement path leading into Grandview.
“We’re going through a few growing pains. Those parents have every right to advocate for a smooth, easy walking path to get here, and I support that,” Grubbs said. “On the same end, I want to make sure that I’m educating them to the fact that they’re taking a short cut to our school that we want them to take, but it’s not an official road yet.”
Grubbs said just trying to find that balance and working with the town has been a goal of his as the principal.
“I think it is definitely worth another look at how many kids actually live in Windshire and how many cross there because the recommendations from the study said it needs to be considered as that subdivision grows,” Grubbs said. “I’m making sure that we’re working together with the town to get our families here safe and sound. We all have that exact same goal. I would definitely endorse looking into it again and seeing about something like the flashing signs and doing an update on all our numbers.”
It’s a matter of life and death, to be totally honest. Last year I saw a car nearly hit two kids going at least 45 mph. That was devastating to see. It was just really shocking. I just hope it doesn’t take somebody getting hit by a car before we can get some action taken there.
parent of a Grandview Elementary students