It may be a while before school is back in session, but when students at Carmi and Wiltse Elementary Schools head back to the classroom, it will be on safer streets outside their school.
Penticton City Council approved spending $145,000 to install traffic calming measures — a combination of speed bumps and delineators to narrow the streets — on Carmi, Wiltse and Balsam Avenues. These same methods were implemented successfully at Parkway Elementary last year.
Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations, said there were three ways these methods would protect the safety of the children.
“We are trying to slow the traffic down, to improve sight lines at crosswalks and we are trying to better address drop off areas and parking in the vicinity of the schools,” he said.
The first stage is the installation of temporary delineators. Moroziuk said they would then do an analysis late this year and into 2015, before proceeding to permanent installations.
“Everyone agreed they needed to address the speeding issue,” said Moroziuk, referring to consultations with residents in the affected areas. Those consultations, he said, resulted in both modifications to the initial plan and expansion of it.
“Wiltse school is a little bit unusual in that it has a school zone on both sides of it,” he said. “Our work had originally concentrated on Wiltse, but we heard loud and clear from the residents on Balsam, there is an equal problem with people speeding through the school zone on that side.”
Coun. Judy Sentes was concerned about the effect the traffic calming measures would have on ambulance traffic headed to Penticton Regional Hospital. She appreciated that no speed bumps were planned for Carmi, but was concerned the narrowing could still cause an issue.
Moroziuk explained that the driving lanes wouldn’t be narrowed, though the parking areas on either side would be affected, making it easier for pedestrians to see and be seen.
“We are narrowing it so a person that is crossing the road would be able to walk out inside of the delineated area and they would come to a point that would take them to the back of a parked car,” said Moroziuk.
There is already $75,600 allocated to traffic calming in the 2014 budget and Moroziuk recommended the $69,400 shortfall come from existing gas tax funds.