Signs, lights not aligned near Westwood Middle

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.

Inconsistencies between signs and flashing beacons near Westwood Middle School have caught the attention of John Freeman.

“There’s a disconnect between the flashing yellow lights and posted school zone times,” Freeman said in an email. “In the confusion ... some cars creep at 20 mph because of the times posted, but others zoom by because the yellow lights are not flashing. When is 20 mph enforced — during the many posted time segments, or only when the yellow flashing lights are on?”

Inconsistencies between the signs and the beacons stem from the changes in school start and dismissal times from year to year and the failure to update the signs.

Phil Mann, city of Gainesville traffic operations manager, said state statutes regulate the timing of the flashing beacons.

They start 30 minutes before the start of school or the start of a school breakfast program. They go off 15 minutes after the start of school. At the end of school, the beacons start flashing 15 minutes before dismissal and run 30 minutes.

Two schools -- Westwood and Littlewood Elementary -- are in the area of Northwest 16th Avenue/34th Street and they different start and end times.

“Littlewood...starts at 7:45 a.m.. and the breakfast program starts at 7:15 a.m. Therefore, the school flashing beacon starts at 6:45 a.m. (1/2 hour before breakfast) and ends at 8 a.m. (15 minutes after school starts),” Mann said. “Westwood ... starts at 9:10 a.m. and the breakfast program starts at 8:40 a.m. Therefore, the school flashing beacon starts at 8:10 a.m. (1/2 hour before the breakfast program starts) and ends at 9:25 a.m. (15 minutes after school starts).”

Mann added he is getting with the appropriate agencies to update the times on the signs.

Now for the money question — will drivers be ticketed for speeding during the posted school zone times if the beacons are not flashing?

No, said Gainesville Police Sgt. Joe Raulerson, who heads GPD’s traffic unit.

“We only write citations in those school zones when the beacons are flashing or in any school zone when beacons are present,” Raulerson said in an email.

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