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Lower speed limit sought near school

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The Rainy River District School Board is concerned about the speed limit in front of Crossroads School in Devlin and is asking the Ministry of Transportation to reduce it from 80 km/h to 60 km/h.

Director of Education Heather Campbell noted in a recent letter to Transportation minister Steven Del Duca that a speed of 80 km/h in front of the school is excessive and dangerous.

She said it raises safety concerns for the students, staff, parents/guardians, visitors, and buses that deliver students to and from the school each day.

Located on Highway 613 North, less than one km north of Highway 11/71, the speed limit quickly rises to 80 km/h just a short distance before the entrance/exit to Crossroads.

Campbell added Highway 613N is a very busy secondary highway.

“It is the main route to Crossroads School and Naicatchewenin First Nation,” she noted.

“And with the recent redirection of logging routes, there has been a significant increase in the number of semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles speeding by the school at 80 km/h each day.”

Back in 2012, Safe Communities Rainy River District helped the Township of La Vallee in addressing this speed concern—determining, in fact, that many vehicles were driving well above the posted speed limit.

La Vallee council had requested a speed reduction by the school, but was told there was insufficient traffic to warrant considering it.

With help from Safe Communities Rainy River District, a La Vallee councillor and co-ordinator of Safe Communities set out to monitor the amount of traffic on the road.

They went out on a Tuesday in August and, in the span of 90 minutes, counted 70 vehicles that went by the school.

Bringing a radar gun along with them, they clocked these vehicles travelling anywhere from 75 km/h up to 112 km/h.

Despite not being successful in lowering the speed limit back then, they took the opportunity to warn drivers to take extra caution while driving near the school.

Campbell noted about 150 students attend Crossroads, and a child-care centre also is located within the school.

“The child-care centre staff often take the young children for walks along the roadway as there are no sidewalks and it is the only route available to them,” she indicated in the letter to Del Duca.

“As well, during school events, the large number of attendees often have to park on the narrow highway in front of the school,” she added.

Campbell stressed since the school board is in charge of student safety and well-being, she requested that the minister designate the area as a school safety zone.

This would involve lowering the speed on that stretch of Highway 613N to 60 km/h while alerting motorists they are near a school.

“Lowering the speed limit for this very short distance would increase the safety of all road users by reducing and potentially preventing future accidents, injuries, and fatalities which, with the present speed limit, we feel are inevitable,” Campbell warned.

The letter, dated Nov. 1, also was sent to Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell, Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro, La Valle Reeve Ken McKinnon, and Alicia Gattoni, representing the Crossroads School Council.

The Countryview Child Care Centre also received a copy.

Heather Campbell noted the MTO has been co-operative with signage regarding school bus stops.

But she acknowledged the speed limit at Crossroads has been a long-standing challenge and hopes the ministry will grant the board’s request.

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