Reduced-speed zones around two Missoula elementary schools received new flashing yellow lights this week.

Drivers on South Higgins Avenue near Paxson School and Rattlesnake Drive near Rattlesnake Elementary School will encounter double flashing beacons, called "bouncing ball" signals that will affect traffic going in both directions near both schools.

City Engineer Kevin Slovarp said on Tuesday, January 7, that the lights will be on and flashing during specific times each school day.

"The lights will flash from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and also from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and finally from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.," Slovarp said. "The exception will be on Thursday afternoons when the students have an early out, when the lights will flash starting at 2 p.m."

Slovarp said the flashing lights will be for more than just alerting drivers that children are nearby, they will also signal reduced speed limits during those hours.

"The speed limit when the lights are flashing on Rattlesnake Drive will be down from 30 miles per hour to 25," Slovarp said. "Then, in front of Paxson Elementary School, they will actually reduce the speed limit by a full 10 miles per hour, so the speed limit will be 20 miles per hour when those lights are flashing on Higgins Avenue."

Slovarp said the purpose of the lights and speed limit reductions are to provide a safer environment for children as they head to school.

"The reduction in speed limits helps the kids be more visible, and increases reaction time for drivers if a kid happens to step off the curb into the street, since they're not driving as fast," Slovarp said.

Slovarp said law enforcement will be keeping a close eye on the new lights and crossings to make sure drivers are paying attention to the reduced speed limits in the areas.

City Engineer Kevin Slovarp



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