Zebulon requesting speed limit changes on Shepard School Road

amoody@newsobserver.comDecember 11, 2013 

This 2011 photo shows where the speed limit on Shepard School Road increases to 45 mph as the school zone ends just south of the Zebulon Boys & Girls Club.

AARON MOODY — amoody@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— A local Boys & Girls Club leader sent an email to Zebulon mayor Bob Matheny that may trigger still more traffic changes along Shepard School Road.

Town leaders are now asking the N.C. Department of Transportation for a unified speed limit of 35 mph on Shepard School Road spanning from Gannon Avenue to Old Bunn Road.

The existing school zone that runs from Stronach Avenue to just north of the U.S. 64/264 bridge would not change. The speed limit there is 25 mph for designated time periods before and after each school day for Zebulon Middle School.

It’s an area where the safety of young pedestrians has been underthe microscope in recent months, and that was why Zebulon Boys & Girls Club board member Carol Weeks brought the matter to light.

“I’m always concerned about the safety of the children walking to and from the club and the buses and parents coming in and out, especially to and from (Zebulon) middle school,” Weeks said.

Weeks had noticed the existing speed limit of 45 mph that extends past the club for inbound traffic and begins before the club – where the school zone ends – on Shepard School Road heading away from town.

“I had observed in other parts of town the speed limits usually transition from 25 (during school zone times) to 35, and then to 45,” she said. “I think that would be a much safer situation for people accessing the intersection and accessing the club.”

Police Chief Tim Hayworth made near-identical recommendations to the town board at a recent meeting after reviewing the span at Matheny’s request.

“There’s some foot traffic after school and before school between the Boys & Girls Club and (Zebulon) middle school, and a reduced speed limit would probably help that,” Hayworth said.

Hayworth reported two flaws of the Shepard School Road speed limit design, including Weeks’ catch of the abrupt change to 45 mph while traveling north toward the Boys & Girls Club.

He also said a lack of signage causes confusion for inbound traffic. There is no indication the speed limit decreases from 45 mph to 35 mph just past the Boys & Girls Club. All drivers see is a 25 mph school zone sign that applies temporarily before and after each school day.

“Within the city limits, unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 35,” Hayworth said. “But there’s no signage there so it appears that the speed limit goes from 45 and drops straight into a school zone of 25 and stays 25 mph through the school zone all the way to Stronach (Avenue), where it goes back up to 35 mph.”

With the approval of the town board, Matheny prepared a letter to request the speed limit changes from the DOT. Weeks on Friday was preparing a letter to include with the request, citing the Boys & Girls Club’s support of the proposed changes.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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