Student Safety Concerns at Novak Elementary Could Mean Traffic Changes

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

MARION, Iowa — A relatively new school in a growing area has parents worried about their kids crossing a busy street. Now, the city council plans to make that walk to school a little safer.

Novak Elementary School opened in 2010 off 29th Avenue. Students use a crosswalk at the intersection of 29th and Fifth Street to get to and from school. Some parents say this crosswalk isn’t safe enough. 29th Avenue is already a busy street. And it only gets busier during the morning and afternoon. There’s a yellow crosswalk sign, but no stop sign or traffic light. But more warning for drivers and caution for pedestrians could be on the way.

Novak Elementary School parent Dawn Christensen says heavy traffic doesn’t slow down.

“Most drivers don’t pay attention to those or don’t obey those,” said Novak Elementary School parent Dawn Christensen.

Since the school opened, she’s been walking her kids to the front door. And it wasn’t long before they witnessed a crash at the crosswalk.

“If it had been one minute sooner, she could have been in that accident so that’s scary,” said Christensen.

Concern sparked a city traffic survey. 40 to 50 kids walk to and from Novak each day. But only a crossing guard greets them. City Manager Lon Pluckhahn says not to expect too much more like a stop sign.

“If you were to put a stop sign up, you would never be able to make a left out of the school and it would back the traffic up onto the side streets and it would actually create a lot more transportation and traffic issues than exist now,” said Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn.

And it’ll take an agreement and financial partnership with the school district to put up a costly traffic light.

“The city has a $30 million plus budget so finding the 40 thousand dollars is workable. But it really comes down to, if we do something there, we don’t want to make it worse,” said Pluckhahn.

After two and half years, Christensen says she wants the city and district to work together for student safety.

“What we did talk a lot about was lowering the speed limit back down so we’re hopeful that at least that will happen,” said Christensen.

But there’s no timeline or budget in place right now.

The city manager says he plans to speak with the school district on what’s best for this school and how to split the costs of any further signage or traffic lights.

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