Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey

Suggestion to improve school crosswalk safety meets with positive response from MDT


December 11, 2019

Roger Dey

A suggestion by Lincoln's new librarian Kate Radford could improve the safety at the crosswalks near Lincoln School.

At a meeting of the Upper Blackfoot Valley Community Council two months ago, Radford suggested improving the school crosswalks with the use of a button that could activate the flashing warning lights as needed. The crosswalk lights are currently timed to activate at the start and end of the school days, when students are most likely to be crossing the highway.

"We all know how bad it is and how hard it is to get people to slow down," UBVCC Chairman ZAch Muse said at the Dec. 5 Lincoln Government Day meeting.

Muse credited Radford for coming up with the new approach to the long-standing problem. Retired Lincoln music teacher and crossing guard Chris McInally voiced concerns about safety in the area for several years, which ultimately led the 2013 passage and signing of SB-161. The law allows the Montana Department of Transportation to take public comment into account on state highway speed limits next to school zones. The law hasn't changed the speed limit near the Lincoln School, but Radford's suggestion seems to have gained traction with MDT. Muse said an MDT traffic engineer contacted him last month and told him they have an agreement from everyone in the MDT district to install the push buttons, but still need approval from Helena.

"We were hoping, at best, to get it where we could adjust text times on the flashing lights but it sounds like they're on board with doing the push buttons," he said.

Muse said the focus on the school and the kid's safety helped MDT get behind the modification, which, if approved, probably won't be installed until next year.

Pedestrian control of the flashing warning lights should not only improve safety for students during the school year, but also for summer visitors to Lincoln who stay at and use Hooper Park, which is expected to increase with the planned addition of a skate park.


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