DES MOINES, Iowa — After the hit and run death of a 14-year-old girl Des Moines’s city council made changes to the city’s school speed zone ordinance to change the language from school “houses” to school “facilities”.
Now areas within 200 feet of a school facility like a sports field are considered school speed zones. One area where this new change took effect was on University Avenue near East High School.
A flashing school speed zone light was relocated further down East University Avenue to meet the new ordinance. This comes just in time before students all around the metro return to school.
John Davis, the Des Moines’s City Traffic Engineer, said that the flashing light school speed zone signs are more effective at slowing drivers down than static ones.
“The biggest thing as we get into the new school year is for drivers to be patient and understanding and keep their eyes out because people are maybe taking their children to a new school they’re not familiar with. You’ve got children that are now getting back into the routine of walking to school or maybe they’re walking to a new school so just slow down you’ll get there you don’t have to speed,” Davis said.
There are potential plans in the future to add crosswalks and more advanced lights to the area around East High School, however funding needs to be secured for the project to move forward.
A spokesperson for the city said when MidAmerican Energy crews arrived Thursday morning to connect the power to the flashing school signs, they discovered overnight someone had removed all the wiring the city had installed.
“This type of behavior happens, and it’s almost impossible to prevent. It’s disappointing there was a bad actor last night, especially for a project regarding children’s safety,” said Devin Perry, Communications Specialist with the City Manager’s Office.
The city has another crew on site rewiring the area. It will be completed by the time classes start in the Des Moines School District on August 24th.