In a rare gesture, the Payson Town Council rejected a plan to put a crosswalk with a flashing warning light in front of the school that was supported by both the Payson School District and the town’s engineering staff.
The council worried the proposed crosswalk on Longhorn Drive would bring traffic to a standstill at key hours of the day.
The school district had asked the town to go in on a grant application to put a crosswalk with flashing yellow lights when occupied at Forest Park Drive.
Public Works Director LaRon Garrett supported the school district’s request, on the condition that the school received a Safe Schools Grant, with no net cost to the town.
“There are several Rim Country Middle School students who live north and west of the school,” Garrett wrote in a Council Decision Request report.
“A large number of these students walk to school and must cross Longhorn Road. This would be considered a mid-block crossing, since there is no traffic control on Longhorn to stop vehicles at the crosswalk. Mid-block crossings can be a pedestrian hazard.
“The staff believes this crosswalk can provide a better access for students going to and from the RCMS if the additional safety concerns can be mitigated,” Garrett concluded.
However, the council members were more worried about the potential impact on traffic.
Garrett’s report had also noted that “Longhorn is the second busiest street in Payson. The heaviest times for this traffic is just before school starts and just after school lets out.
“When students are in the crosswalk, traffic on Longhorn Road will be completely stopped. This traffic stop will cause a traffic backup and increase the potential for rear-end vehicle accidents.”
Police Chief Don Engler voiced concerns about the impact on traffic flow and said that police have not had problems with jaywalking at that location.
Following up on Engler’s comment, Vice Mayor Mike Vogel said, “I’m opposed to it.”
Councilor John Wilson observed, “If there’s not a problem, why fix it?”
But Councilor Ed Blair said it made sense to control traffic in front of the school. “Maybe this will slow the traffic down,” he added, reflecting past complaints from residents about drivers speeding down Longhorn.
“It’ll bring it to a stop,” said Garrett.
So despite the school district’s plea and the bottom line of the staff report, the council decided to do nothing and let the school district’s request simply fade away unanswered.