Parents Want Lower Speed Limits On Highway 66 Near Verdigris Schools

Tuesday, August 16th 2016, 1:43 pm
By: News On 6

A speed limit has Verdigris parents worried about the safety of their children at school.

Route 66 runs past three elementary schools and there have been several crashes, and parents want the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to do something about it.

Parents say at peak drop-off and pick-up times, Route 66, right in front of the school, can become a parking lot. So, they want to see changes along the road before a major crash happens.

Every morning, Desiree Morgan takes her second grader to school. Sitting in traffic as other cars speed by, there's a constant concern.

“It’s kind of a nightmare,” Morgan said. "They can rear end you going 60 miles per hour, and I have my second grader, plus a  toddler, plus another one on the way, so that's kind of a scary thought."

Many people in the small community have the same concern.

With three schools near the intersection of Route 66 and 540 Road, traffic is generally the highest in the morning and afternoon.

Right now, the speed limit is 60 miles per hour. Parents say lowering the speed just 10 miles per hour could help. 

Verdigris police chief, Jack Shackelford, said last year there were 14 accidents near the school - three involved buses.

"It's not a marked school zone, it hasn't been marked as a school zone, we have no crosswalk markings and safety has become a concern," Shackelford said.

He says two years ago he requested ODOT perform a speed study to get the limits lowered, but ODOT decided against it.

"I'm at the point where anything that they would do would be a help," the chief said.

ODOT says speed limits are set based on the speed the majority of drivers are traveling, and that, in some cases, lowering the speed can cause more problems.

Shackelford says there hasn't been a major accident involving buses or kids, but Morgan fears it could happen.

"I don’t think we need to put somebody's life in jeopardy and have a complete tragedy in our community for this to change. We need to change it before it happens," she said.

ODOT says, before they can make any changes, they'll need a formal request for a new speed study. Police say they plan to do that.