Construction on the new Weirton elementary school is progressing quickly these days, as can be seen by anyone driving along Pennsylvania Avenue.
We can easily get a good idea of the future exterior appearance of the building, with the walls and other features taking shape as each day passes. There is, however, one thing we think is missing from the plans for the school, and it needs to be changed soon for the safety of students, teachers and motorists.
Last week, Weirton officials said they had been told by representatives of the West Virginia Department of Highways there would be no need to install a traffic light at the school. Their reasoning? The current traffic counts don't warrant such an investment. Their apparent solution? The city should place a police officer or crossing guard at the school at the beginning and end of the school day to help with traffic control. Under normal circumstances, that might be acceptable. The problem here is the entrance to the school is at the top of a hill with little visibility as to what is coming on the other side.
There will be more than 900 students attending the new school, not to mention faculty, administration and other staff, plus visitors who will be trying to pull into the property five days each week.
Safety has to be the main concern here, and stationing someone to wave traffic through, we feel, just won't cut it. A permanent traffic light is the only real solution.
State officials are expected in Weirton sometime in the coming weeks to get a better look at the proposal. We encourage them to closely study every aspect, from the topography in the neighborhood, to the number of students, teachers and other visitors set to be coming to the area once the school is open. The current traffic count is meaningless in this case.
We understand everyone is looking more closely at their expenditures these days in order to not waste any funding on unnecessary projects. However, we feel the installation of a traffic signal, even if it is only used a couple times each day, would be a more than prudent investment.
The bottom line has to be about safety, not dollar signs.