Whidbey Examiner


Resident takes aim at flashing traffic signs

By MEGAN HANSEN Whidbey Examiner Co-Editor
June 4, 2014 · Updated 2:44 PM

Coupeville resident Ray Gillett says he wasn’t happy with flashing school signs installed on South Main Street two years ago, and he’s still not happy.

And while he’s made his unhappiness known — both then and now — local officials say there isn’t an issue.

The signs in question are located just before Prairie Center and near the school district bus barn. They alert motorists to drop the speed limit to 20 mph when flashing.

They were installed in early 2012 through a grant received by the Town of Coupeville and Coupeville School District.

Gillet said he wasn’t pleased with the placement of the signs then and he still isn’t impressed with them now.

He says where the district really needs them is on both sides of Terry Road for motorists entering the town and near the elementary school.

“I think we’re the only district that doesn’t have flashing lights for all our children,” he said. “They don’t adequately cover the school district.”

Gillett said he frequently sees motorists speeding through town and in front of the elementary school.

At one time, he said, he followed a man who was speeding from Crockett Lake Estates into town and the man sped through the area of the middle and high school. He said the lights don’t work.

“What do we have to do to get flashing lights?” he asked. “Is someone going to have to die before we get them? Someone is going to barrel through, not paying attention, and hit a kid.”

Gillet took his concerns to the town, school district and even tried the county.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the town and district encountered challenges on where the flashing school signs could be placed after they were purchased two years ago. Factors impacting the locations included driveways, utilities and regulations on how close lights can be to each other.

Conard said a flashing light couldn’t be too close to the lights at the main intersection of State Highway 20 and Main Street.

In response to Gillet’s concerns, she had the marshal’s office keep an eye on traffic in the area of the elementary school.

“We’re not seeing the area as a problem,” she said. “We don’t share his opinion nor can we legally put them where he wants them.”

The town actively seeks grant opportunities for additional signage and other road projects, she said.

A year after receiving a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, two new speed signs were installed in town. Each sign displays a passing car’s speed, flashing when it is going over the posted speed limit.

Conard said those signs were placed in areas where the marshal’s office does see a problem.

The signs were installed on South Main Street, just past the school district bus barn, and one on Broadway Street near State Highway 20.

They’ve been in place for about two weeks now.

Coupeville Town Marshal Rick Norrie said he’s also noticed the effectiveness of the new signs.

“It’s very accurate,” Norrie said. “It brings us back into focus and we pay attention to detail.”


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