Three schools to get traffic signals

Photo by John Bryant
Looking at the problem
Range Elememtary Principal Charlie Tolley takes a look at the school zone sign near his school on Watauga Road. Tolley said he is very happy the signs will be replaced with flashing "school zone" lights.

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  Three local elementary schools will be a little bit safer soon thanks to a grant for school zone traffic lights. Range Elementary, Little Milligan Elementary, and Hampton Elementary schools will soon be getting school zone signals installed thanks to Carter County School Board approval during the October meeting.
  Director of Schools Dallas Williams said the grant was originally intended to fund two lights, but enough funding was available for three. The Optional Safety Control Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation is a reimbursable $50,000 grant.
  County Finance Director Jason Cody said the bidding process led to the engineering company of Mandarin and Craig, of Kingsport. Preliminary sight work has been done by the company and installation of the flashing lights is expected to be completed during Christmas break.
  Range Elementary and Little Milligan Elementary were chosen to receive the lights because of the traffic hazard caused by the layout of the highways that they are located on. Both schools are located around curves creating the potential for a traffic accident, according to Williams.
  Williams said these schools are top priorities because "the main highway has poor vision and when traffic comes across the hill you can't see."
  Hampton Elementary School deals with a totally different problem. Although U.S. Highway 67/321 provides a clear view of the traffic coming up to the school, the amount of traffic poses a different threat to the children and to people dropping their kids off.
  "This is a great help and safety is a main concern, by having lights put up that will take care of some of these concerns," Williams said.
  Dallas Grace has taken his granddaughter to Range Elementary School for five years and experienced these problems first hand. "If you are coming out of the school yard and making a left turn, it is dangerous. They have the same problem at Little Milligan. People don't know when to slow down," he said.
  Grace said if Carter County Sheriff's Department deputies and constables are present the traffic slows down. "They can write tickets, but when they go to court it is thrown out because there is no signal light," Grace said.