Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart reports that the Sheriff’s Office is aware of recent changes to the School Zone at Lee Elementary. On Wednesday the 6th day of January 2016, the Sheriff’s Office communicated with the Florida Department of Transportation and expressed serious concerns relating to the changes and the safety of children coming to and departing from the school. The Sheriff’s Office referenced the prior school zone that included the entrance/exits of the school as well as the cross walk.
The Sheriff’s Office was advised that the new school zone was in accordance with federal specification regarding new national studies. It was heavily discussed with FDOT Project Director and engineer that the new school zone does not include any entrance or exit of the school. The FDOT could only advise that the changes were in accordance with federal specification taking the highest level of safety into consideration to locate the “cross walk” within the school zone. The Sheriff’s Office inquired in regards to what safety concerns were considered relating to school buses loaded with children and motorist delivering children to the school. This area is a 50 MPH posted speed zone that only quickly reduces to 40 MPH in front of the school. Motorist traveling east do not enter a school zone until after passing the school. Motorist traveling West exit the school zone into an accelerated speed limit in front of the school. The FDOT could only advise that school zones were focused on pedestrian safety and referenced the recent sidewalks that have been installed and the purpose of the school zone being located to include the cross walk.
The FDOT concluded that persons of interest or concerns can call their office in Lake City at 386-961-7440. The Sheriff’s Office further encourages those with concerns to call and petition the FDOT to revisit the project and the changes made to the school zone. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to monitor this area with Law Enforcement presence to encourage motorist/pedestrian safety and caution.