Parents red over new traffic signal

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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With Maria Montessori Charter Academy well into their third school year at their new facility on Wildcat Boulevard, the school is finally getting its school zone signs. Concerned parent Glen Moeller was surprised he had to go to the city council to get the oversight fixed. “I think it was just forgotten,” Moeller said. “It’s not on their radar because it’s a charter school.” Rocklin Public Works Director Kent Foster said the city didn’t need to put the school zone signs in at the charter school location but he had them installed anyway. “The roadway in front of the Montessori School is a private road/driveway and the city would not place signs on private property,” Foster said. The signs are visible on Wildcat Boulevard as drivers approach the area from both directions. The traffic flow has been getting a lot of attention since the city installed a new traffic signal at Iroquis Road and Wildcat Boulevard in December. The $300,000 project paid for with Traffic Impact Fees required the four-way stop at Peninsula Drive and Wildcat Boulevard to be removed due to its proximity to the new light. The gap in the boulevard was filled-in, which meant parents driving to the school would have to now go down to the traffic signal and make a U-turn. Concerned parent Deanna Mahnke says its now very frustrating to pick-up and drop-off children and find yourself stuck in traffic. “I don’t know if the lights are metered, but you could be 20 to 30 cars deep and know that you have at least two cycles of lights before you make that U-turn,” Mahnke said. Parent Alan Finta lives in Whitney Ranch and said the new configuration is easy for him. “For me it works because I’m very close,” Finta said. Moeller said the new signal improves traffic flow, but drivers are now flying by kids walking home from school at 40 mph instead of slowing to stop at the stops signs and watching for kids. “It’s odd to me that they pulled out the stop signs,” Moeller said. “Stop signs make people slow down and stop. It is a traffic calming device.” Parent and charter school board member Bruce Houdesheldt said parents are now at risk for getting hit pulling onto a busy street where a stop sign use to be. “The distance between the traffic lights might create a problem where our entrance comes out,” Houdesheldt said. “Is that going to end up with potential collisions with parents trying to get in and a high school student coming down the road and not paying attention?” Even making a right turn into the school driveway puts parents at risk of being rear ended during high peak times, Houdesheldt said. “I want to know if there was an adequate traffic study,” Houdesheldt said. Last summer, Fehr and Peers Transportation Consultants concluded a traffic survey and recommended the series of stop signs on Wildcat Boulevard be replaced with a traffic signal to “reduce the delays that were measured on Wildcat Boulevard during the investigation,” the staff report said. The study took into account the school, the city park and the nearby fire station. The charter school has an enrollment of 290 children. The number of pedestrians at peak times is unclear, according to school officials. Rocklin City Manager Rick Horst said it’s unlikely the speed limit will be changed anytime soon, but he’s open to hear from concerned parents. “A lot of people don’t understand, legally speed limits are set based on the average speeds and road design,” Horst said. “Can it be changed? Yes. But sometimes you have to step up to the state or the Feds to makes those changes.”