Fox Hills Elementary students are finding it safer to cross busy 4000 West as this school year begins
Aug 20, 2019 11:53AM
● By Carl Fauver
On the far west edge of Taylorsville, crosswalk safety enhancements have been installed this summer to help students cross 4000 West to reach Fox Hills Elementary School. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
With their student population dwindling and anticipated Granite School District boundary changes coming, officials at Fox Hills Elementary School (3775 West 6020 South) were concerned that safety improvements would not enjoy a high priority at their sometimes-dangerous crosswalk over busy 4000 West near 6000 South.
But school Principal Teri Daynes and members of the Fox Hills Elementary School Community Council apparently underestimated the resolve of Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson and her counterpart in the Kearns Metro Township, Kelly Bush.
“The safety of our citizens will always be my top priority as mayor, so we knew we needed to do something,” Overson said. “If the Granite School District does what is expected, a year from now kids will no longer cross 40th West to get to school. But that doesn’t help the kids this year. So, we installed some new safety lights.”
At a cost of about $10,000, Taylorsville City officials had bright flashing lights added to the crosswalk signs on both sides of 4000 West near 6000 South, just a few hundred yards west of the school. Initially, city leaders were going to split the modest cost with the neighboring Kearns Township. But eventually Taylorsville officials chose to take care of the entire expense.
“We were planning to split the cost when (Taylorsville City Manager) John Taylor called back and said they would pay for it,” Bush said. “That took us aback a little bit, and we are certainly very grateful.”
Bush added the Kearns Township will reciprocate by adding another pedestrian crossing light on 4000 West, this one farther north, near Kearns Junior High School, at about 5000 South. Work on that project was also scheduled for completion late last month, before the start of the new school year.
“We are very grateful Taylorsville City stepped forward to pay for the crosswalk improvements,” Daynes said. “Our school community council had been working for nearly a year to find funding for the project after one of our members was nearly hit on 4000 West while she was pregnant and working as a crossing guard. After that near miss, Kylie Jones became our biggest force on the council to make the improvements.”
Jones has now started her fourth year as a school crossing guard. She calls the improvements a welcome change.
“That is supposed to be a 35 mph-road, but drivers go much faster,” Jones said. “I have seen parents nearly get hit. It took us an entire year to get these improvements. Changes finally came more quickly when we involved the Taylorsville and Kearns mayors. We are grateful to both of them.”
Of the 700 Fox Hills Elementary students — down from 850 just four years ago — nearly half live west of 4000 West. Daynes is not sure how many of them regularly walk to school.
The enhanced crosswalk lighting — installed shortly after last school year ended — includes a button on each side of the street, which pedestrians can push to activate the flashing lights.
“I admit, the improvements do not knock your socks off; but it is certainly better,” Daynes said. “We would have preferred larger, overhanging lights. But this will definitely be safer than what we had before.”
Daynes also pointed out that some students regularly use the crosswalk when crossing guards are not present because of before- and after-school activities hosted at Fox Hills Elementary.
“I’m just glad the cities, the school district and the school’s community council all got together to deal with this problem,” Overson said. “Sure, these lights may not be as necessary next year if the school boundaries change. But some people will still use the crosswalk then, and it needed to be safer.”