Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RFFB)
Various safety improvements at four Fayetteville schools are scheduled to begin this year.
Lights, signs and/or other infrastructure will be installed at Butterfield Trail, Holcomb, Washington and Owl Creek elementary schools.
Some of the projects are already underway, while others were recommended for approval by the City Council’s Transportation Committee at the group’s most recent meeting.
City Engineer Chris Brown said the plans came at the request of parents who were concerned about the safety of school children in some of the more high-traffic areas around town.
Brown showed the committee the current concepts, but said the plans could be altered a bit before the projects are complete.
“Some of these concepts we are looking at tweaking for various reasons,” said Brown. “I don’t think these are final plans, but the concepts are there.”
Funding for the work is estimated at about $50,000 and will come from the city’s Transportation Bonds Fund.
Butterfield Trail Elementary
Butterfield Trail Elementary will receive flashing lights and signs on both sides of Old Missouri Road at the crosswalk in front of Eton Street where students cross the road to get to and from school each day. The solar-powered lights are called rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RFFB) and use a irregular flash pattern to help drivers see pedestrians crossing the street.
Research from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highways Administration found that RFFB systems can provide vehicle yielding rates of up to 96 percent.
Brown said the materials for the Butterfield Trail project have already been ordered and are scheduled to be installed sometime in September.
It’s the second project in the works near Butterfield Trail.
A traffic signal is currently being installed at the intersection of Rolling Hills Drive and Old Missouri Road, about 600 feet north of the school. The project was first announced by Mayor Lioneld Jordan at the May 1 City Council meeting during a discussion about the reclassification of Rolling Hills Drive.
The work includes a new three-way traffic signal, markings for left- and right-turn lanes, and new stop bars on the pavement to indicate where drivers and bicyclists are required to stop in compliance with the signal.
Brown said the plan is to have the signal installed and operating before school starts in August.
Owl Creek Elementary
A new subdivision across from Owl Creek Elementary has led to increased traffic and concern from parents and neighbors. Plans to improve safety include flashing beacons on both sides of Rupple Road near Mountain View Drive, along with new ramps, an extended island and a crosswalk.
Brown said the current crossing may be re-located a bit, but the overall concept is pretty solid at this point.
“The intent here is to get a protected crossing for the folks who are on the east side of Rupple to get to Owl Creek,” he said, adding that the work is expected to be completed in time for the spring school semester.
A traffic calming project near Washington Elementary includes a narrowing of Lafayette Street near Highlands Avenue. Crews will construct bumpouts on both sides of Lafayette and install flashing beacons, Brown said. The bumpouts will be painted and a crosswalk will be added. That project is also scheduled to be completed by the spring semester.
A larger planned project on Salem Road includes some additions that could improve safety for Holcomb Elementary students. The overall project is aimed at improving traffic flow, but a new elevated crosswalk and beacons are planned along with a parking lane on Crystal Drive for student pickup.
“This sort of allows parents – if they do want their child to walk off campus – it allows a safe place to be picked up,” said Brown.
The work is underway and should be completed this fall.
Ward 4 City Council Member Kyle Smith said he welcomes the improvements, but had some comments for residents who wonder why schools are built in busy areas to begin with.
“We don’t put schools in high-traffic locations,” Smith said. “Schools turn wherever they are into a high-traffic location because they’re a destination for hundreds of people.”