COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – This spring, a month after a Doherty High School student died when she was hit by a car in a crosswalk near the school, city engineers rushed to install a school zone around the school along busy Barnes Road.
The school zone involved installing three signs with flashing lights, warning drivers to slow down to 20 mph when the lights are activated at the start, middle and end of the school day.
Todd Frisbie, the city’s head traffic engineer, said that 19 middle and high schools within the city limits have no such zones.
“Nationally, the focus is more having those zones around elementary schools because older kids are usually better at safely navigating traffic, signals and crosswalks,” he explained. “But after what happened at Doherty this Spring, we want to do more to increase safety around all schools.
Frisbie said that the city is currently gathering materials and prioritizing which schools should get school zones first.
“It’s just good practice,” he said. “The goal is to slow traffic down. We won’t put signs on streets where the speed limit is under 30 mph because that won’t slow down traffic enough. A school zone is only as good as the drivers going through it.”
Frisbie said that a school zone system can cost between $20,000 and $50,000.
“We have limited funding for that, but we’re applying for grants that would provide $400,000 or more,” he said. “With grants, you normally have to provide a matching amount of around 10%.”
With current funding levels, it will take from three to five years to install zones at the 19 affected schools, Frisbie said.
He also revealed that the city has had preliminary discussions with school districts 2, 11 and 20.
“We’re glad the city is doing this,” said District 2 spokesperson Christine O’Brien. “We support them. But I know we could do so much more to help, if we would just slow down and pay attention.”
The driver in the March incident at Doherty was 17 at the time and faces a charge of careless driving resulting in death.
Giorgia Trocciola, 17, was the victim.