“We applied for it here 10 years ago, and finally (the county) got to us,” said Banta School District board President Frank Silva. “I think it’s going to be an improvement, especially with kids crossing there.”
Superintendent William Draa said the rural school district originally had women assist children crossing the busy intersection, utilized by big-rigs traveling up to 60 mph en route to commercial centers on Grant Line Road. Draa said after four or five years requesting for something to slow the traffic, a school safety route grant in 1998 kicked in. A four-way stop was put in at the intersection around 2000.
“That alleviated a big part of the problem,” he said.
The four-way stop was fine as long as the district had crossing guards, he said, but cutbacks two years ago eliminated them. Officials said children were then required to use school buses or get rides from parents to go to and from school.
Draa said one of his main concerns is school transportation, which could be cut the next few years because of state budget problems.
In addition to the signal, which was installed in the past few weeks, sidewalks built last fall have helped student safety around the school, Draa said.
School officials have not been notified as to when the lights will be functional, however. Two other newly signaled intersections along Grant Line Road were off for weeks before they were turned on, officials said.
Banta School Principal Albert Garibaldi said there’s a lot of positive buzz among staff and parents about the new signal light.
“Looks great — lights look beautiful, and big (street) signs,” Garibaldi said. “Easy to find the campus, so it’s already an upgrade.”
One concern among parents is that the traffic on eastbound Grant Line Road doesn’t having a turn lane, and the signal doesn’t allow for a protected left-turn.
“I’m disappointed there is not going to be a turn lane,” parent Kelli Sordello said. “I think without it, it will be harder to get into the school area. Curious to see how it’s going to work.”
Still, Sordello said the signals are a welcome addition. She said it will make drivers pay more attention to the intersection and make it safer for the children.
Garibaldi said although the county didn’t have the money initially to install the turn features, he said the school district was informed the matter can be revisited if the need arises.