In past years, several people drove on New Halls Ferry Road in Florissant and passed at a speed of 35 mph. Starting Thursday, cars and their drivers need to slow down near the school.
With a partnership between the and the , the school now has a new school zone with lowered speed limits during school hours.
The new zone boasts a 20-mph speed limit, sidewalks, signage and solar-powered, flashing beacons.
“It’s not obvious there’s a school sitting here,” Halls Ferry Elementary principal Lisa Hazel said. “This makes it safer for everybody, families and community.”
Another big change to the area is the right-hand turn only out of the school’s parking lot.
“People will hopefully get used to it,” Ward 9 Florissant City Councilman Ben Hernandez said.
Hazel said she was concerned initially about parents disagreeing with the right-hand turn, but she found them to be supportive and believes it will now be much safer for those exiting to make a turn.
Hazel began a petition for a school zone seven years ago after she became principal of Halls Ferry. After walking students to the crossing after school, she noticed the dangerous intersection and began writing letters to solicit for a school zone.
“I think it was a safety issue,” she said. “It’s a major highway with five lanes, and there’s one spot where the kids crossed, and we wanted the speed reduced.”
Hazel credits Councilman Hernandez, who also had children attending Halls Ferry in the beginning of the petition process, with keeping the issue in front of the city.
In 2009, after a great deal of petition through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and two different application processes, the city received a Safe Routes to School Infrastructure grant.
Florissant City Engineer Tim Bartlett said the federal grant is through MoDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, and the city received a $145,000 grant for the project. With the grant, there were no costs to the district, city or school.
Chuck Haynes, parent of two children who attend Halls Ferry, said he’s happy to see the safety zone established.
“I believe it’s been a long time coming,” Haynes said. “My children do walk home, and it gives me a peace of mind.”
Although he’s happy for the school zone, Haynes has reservations about the enforcement.
“I hope enforcement is followed up, so that those who don’t obey will get the point and start slowing down,” he said.