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County endorses lower speed limits for two Lake Travis ISD schools

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 by Seth Smalley

On Tuesday, Travis County hosted a public hearing on speed limit considerations for two schools in Lake Travis Independent School District. As it currently stands, neither Rough Hollow Elementary School nor Bee Cave Middle School has a “school zone,” and parents, teachers and community members have complained of dangerous conditions such as blind corners and excessive vehicle speeds during critical crossing hours.

While no action was taken at the Commissioners Court meeting (voting is slated for next week), the general consensus was to approve the requested safety measures: establishing a school zone with reduced speed limits and accompanying flashing lights, as well as a clearer process for the county to address future speed-zone issues.

“Lake Travis ISD has tried repeatedly to get school zones established at both schools and has been asked to get speed zone studies done for each school,” facilities director Robert Winovitch said. “We have been provided with copies of both studies that were completed by Alliance Transportation Group, and these studies support Lake Travis ISD’s request to approve school zones and speed reductions for a limited time period each day.”

Bee Cave City Manager Clint Garza expressed his concern over the dangers of high vehicle speeds around the school.

“We’ve had folks asking for assistance, including establishing zones, crosswalks and more,” Garza said. “From a city perspective, you have our full support to make it safer for children and families in that area.”

There was some confusion from commissioners over whether the county had the express authority to carry out the requests, since speed zone actions aren’t typical Commissioners Court items.

“I’m not clear as well about our county authority on something like this, so if staff could just provide a context for that that would be helpful,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said. “I don’t recall this kind of thing coming to the court before. Is this something that the county can do – establish school zones?”

The confusion was cleared up by Commissioner Ann Howard, who had spoken to the county attorney before the public hearing. She confirmed that the county does have the authority to establish school zones as well as set speed limits.

“Safety is the most important thing that we do,” said Angela Frankhouser, the principal of Rough Hollow. “We are situated on Bee Creek Road, which is a two-lane road. We have already had one car leave the roadway and hit our fence and end up in a retention pond. There is definitely a need for lower speed limits and flashing signs, especially when children are arriving and leaving school.”

Photo by Bidgee, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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