‘It’s very nerve-wracking’: Parents hope safety improvements at busy intersection continue

City considering designating area as school zone

Now that school is starting up again, a busy intersection on Madison’s north side has parents worried.

Last September, News 3 Now reported pedestrians’ concerns at the intersection, which include cars going well over the posted speed limit of 35 mph and not stopping for the flashing pedestrian lights. Over the past year, traffic engineer Yang Tao said the city has put significant resources into improving the street crossing.

On Tuesday, new high-visibility crosswalk markings were added.

The nearby school, Isthmus Montessori Academy, has already started classes this year, and parents of its students hope more changes are on the way.

“It’s very nerve-wracking, especially with kids,” parent Brad Horn said. His two daughters, River and Quinn, attend the Isthmus Montessori Academy – a school off Packers Avenue that drivers might not notice.

With cars speeding by, navigating across the street can be tricky.

“It’s scary,” said River. “The cars, they don’t really stop.”

“We didn’t know it was going to be that busy,” Quinn said.

Horn said even with flashing pedestrian lights, cars don’t always stop.

“It’s just a really challenging situation for the most conscientious driver. They’re going so fast and have so little time to see you,” he said. “A car stopped for us, didn’t notice us until last second, and the car behind them rear-ended them.”

Neighborhood resident Justin Masuga saw the same thing happen with a tow truck in the intersection.

“We were, like, ‘Uh, that was terrible,'” Masuga said. “I don’t want that to be me or somebody else crossing the road with kids.”

Masuga has precious cargo. He and his 5-year-old daughter, who is a student at the nearby school, cross at the intersection often.

“It’s really dangerous,” he said. “I want to make sure this is safe.”

With school starting up again, Masuga has turned to city officials for change. He said that, ideally, he’d like to see a stoplight added, but he realizes that likely won’t happen.

Yang said that, while the intersection isn’t approved for a stoplight, he recommends the city keep the flashing pedestrian lights, which are also called rectangular rapid flashing beacons, or RRFBs, because a study shows 81% of drivers stop for pedestrians when RRFB are activated, as opposed to 19% when they’re not.

Yang also said putting in the new high-visibility crosswalk markings was a priority — a move Masuga thinks is a step in the right direction.

But he and Horn hope officials will do more down the road.

“I’d like to see a school zone, with lower speeds,” he said.

“I think it should be a school zone,” Horn said. “That would make all the difference in the world.”

Yang said the engineering department is looking into making the area a school zone, even though the Isthmus Montessori Academy isn’t within the Madison Metropolitan School district.

He also said the department will contact the Madison police department to ask officers to provide additional enforcement on Packers Avenue.

With other schools starting soon, Yang said he hopes drivers will remember to slow down and take note of their surroundings.

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