He plans to raise the topic at Wednesday’s committee meeting.
Dan Conn, the city’s director of public works, said each crosswalk could cost between $22,500 and $52,500.
Marietta Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck said the roads bordering the schools have crosswalks now that are often not used by students. But she has seen more people walking to and from school recently.
“The number of students walking to and from school has increased, as has the enrollment of West Side Elementary School and Marietta Middle School,” Lembeck said.
Walker said his suggestion stems from complaints by parents.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with calls that the residents want some sort of traffic solution to slow traffic down around schools. In the morning and in the afternoon, there’s a lot of kids that their parents walk them to school, and it’s dangerous to cross the street,” Walker said. “It would be a bad day in Marietta if a kid ever got hit by a car. I don’t want that to happen on my watch.”
Walker invited Lembeck and her staff to Wednesday’s meeting to have input on how to increase the safety of students who walk to school.
“We can try to figure this out together, because it’s not just the city’s issue. The school board needs to be involved as well,” Walker said.
Walker said he wants to install crosswalks with flashing lights to warn drivers people are crossing.
Lembeck said another way to address the problem could be to install speed tables.
Speed tables are the speed bumps that have a one- or two-foot wide flat section in the center.
Conn said a speed table would cost $1,500 to $2,500, but adding a crosswalk that can be used by disabled people would cost an extra $25,000 to $50,000 each.
Adding lights that flash as people cross would make it safer, Walker said, but he hasn’t figured out what they would cost yet.
“There’s different versions of (lights). Some are solar-operated and some are power-operated,” Walker said.
Lembeck said she wants to join in the discussion of the council next week to find a solution.
“Whether crosswalks or speed tables are added, the attention of drivers to speed and pedestrians should increase student safety,” Lembeck said.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he supports the idea of looking into making it easier to walk home from schools because it will enhance the walkability of the city.
“I think more people are walking than they used to be, because people like living in our neighborhoods, and we love our neighborhood schools,” Tumlin said.
Varied problems on walk home
Josh Gazaway, an AP U.S. History teacher at Marietta High School, who walks his 8-year-old son, Mason, to West Side Elementary School every morning, said he can’t stand drivers who make it unsafe to walk when they speed down Maple Avenue, which borders the back of the school and has a speed limit of 25 mph.
“The biggest issue here is the speeding. I’ve seen people going 50 mph on this street,” Gazaway said. “I’ve even gone so far as to leave my truck parked on the street so people slow down, and I got a ($40) ticket from the police for that.”
Gazaway said he thinks more crosswalks would be helpful for people who want to walk, but speed bumps would make the area safer.
Marsha Durham, a physical education assistant teacher at West Side who helps direct the school’s pick-up line, said she has to keep students away from the line of cars so they aren’t in danger of being hit.
“It’s just really hard to have all the walkers cross right in front of the car rider line,” Durham said.
The car line at West Side takes about 20 minutes each day to cycle through the school because more than half of the children at the school are picked up by their parents.
Marietta High School Principal Leigh Colburn said the danger of walking home is different for high school students.
“We need to be concerned about crosswalks at the high schools. The issue is, a lot of times with high school students, is they don’t use them,” Colburn said. “The big complaint by motorists is that students don’t use the crosswalks.”
To make sure students are crossing safely, Colburn said, the crosswalks could be monitored by parents.
“I think it needs to be a parent group that gets set up to have one parent be with students while they cross,” Colburn said. “I don’t think it should be the responsibility of the police department.”
Lembeck said in her 20 years with the school system, she has never seen schools hire crosswalk guards.
When it comes to funding the project, Tumlin said he was open to discussion, but he thinks the money should come from the school board.
“The city will do (the project), but we’ll have to be reimbursed to do it,” Tumlin said. “The school board may say it’s your responsibility to have them on the road and so that’s a natural place where we might disagree.”