In two days’ time, the North Penn School Board delivered on its word.
It began Tuesday night, when Bishop Wood Boulevard parent Susan Daubert asked the board for a crossing guard utside General Nash Elementary School, in order to make crossing Liberty Bell Drive\= safer. Traffic has increased ever since the closure of Bustard Road by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for its widening and bridge replacement project.
Board President Vince Sherpinsky told her the district would reach out to Towamencin Township over the matter.
By Thursday afternoon, the district announced the special placement of a crossing guard at the school for the 2014-15 school year.
“The issue was solved quickly thanks to the collaboration and cooperation of the township, the board and parents who brought this issue forward during the Aug. 12 school board meeting,” stated district Communication and Development Specialist Madeline Bergman in a press release.
On Tuesday night, Daubert, who has lived in her home for 21 years and has had children in the district since 1997, said all the bus stops for Nash are on the school side of Liberty Bell Drive, across the street from her neighborhood. Many children, including her own daughter, who attends Penndale Middle School, walk across Liberty Bell Drive to access bus stops.
“Since the road was closed, traffic has grown exponentially. It’s an absolute madhouse,” she said. “I talked to the (Towamencin) Police chief … and he said it is like water: (traffic) finds the easiest way to get around. When I approached the township, they ensured me they would do everything they could.”
The designated detour is Old Forty Foot Road and Rittenhouse Road during the closure. Rittenhouse Road, she said, does not have driveways feeding into it like Liberty Bell Drive. Add in an S-curve and a hill, and it becomes an unsafe detour, she said.
Furthermore, it becomes more dangerous at 6:40 a.m., when it is twilight and cars speed through there, she said.
She said the police told her a traffic study cannot be done until school begins, in order to see how traffic is impacted. She said a four-way stop at Nash is not possible.
“There is the possibility of hiring a crossing guard for Liberty Bell Drive, and it costs $13,000 for one year for a crossing guard,” she said. “Half could be paid by the township and half by the school board.”
Daubert called the issue a North Penn area problem, not just a North Penn District one.
“It affects every child in the neighborhood that goes to Nash, Pennfield, Christopher Dock, the high school, Lansdale Catholic and Corpus Christi,” she said. “It’s almost 100 children.
“I strongly consider you spend a small amount of money for a crossing guard for one year to increase the safety of all children – not just the kids that walk to Nash, but the entire neighborhood,” she said.
Sherpinsky told her a traffic study is not necessary to install a crossing guard.
“They just have to agree to do it. The crossing guard works for the township, not the district. I think they would be willing to do that,” he said. “With the bridge closed, traffic is routed right in front of the school. It’s a main thoroughfare.”
Sherpinsky said Tuesday that the school board has always had a good working relationship with Towamencin.
“They could probably accommodate that pretty fast,” he said.
The crossing guard at Bustard Road and Liberty Bell Drive will remain in place.
Towamencin Police remind drivers that the detour for the Bustard Road Bridge closure is Rittenhouse Road and Old Forty Foot Road to Sumneytown Pike.