MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — People who live near Shadowglen Elementary say the school zone in front of the campus needs more safety measures to slow down drivers and protect kids going to school.
Signs indicate the school zone on Shadowglen Trace, but neighbors would like to see flashing lights installed and more law enforcement patrols.
“Something needs to happen now,” Christine Brown said.
She lives in the neighborhood behind the school and watched the road from her back porch. In the mornings, drivers use the street as a shortcut from Farm-to-Market 973 to US Highway 290 to avoid some of the rush hour traffic on the way into Austin.
“The traffic is horrendous,” Brown said.
There is a crosswalk with a crossing guard in front of the school, but she worries about the growing neighborhoods close enough for students to walk to school.
“So what happens,” she said, “if they just kind of step out a little bit and a car’s going really too fast?”
Installing lights is a tricky issue because of where the school zone is; the area is in Manor ISD, but it’s in unincorporated Travis County, outside of Manor city limits. The county controls the roads, but the city of Austin would maintain the lights there. That’s because the county doesn’t have the resources to install and maintain flashing beacons, a spokesman said.
The county says it asked the city about installing lights there a couple years ago, but the Austin Transportation Department told KXAN it doesn’t have any records showing they asked. If the county wants warning lights, a department spokesperson said, it would first need to initiate a study to determine if the zone warranted flashing beacons.
The school district, meanwhile, says administrators have had conversations with the county about installing lights there, but there aren’t any plans as of yet.
Brown’s other hope is for a greater law enforcement presence, but that proves difficult, too.
Since it’s outside Manor’s city limits, enforcement falls to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, which covers more than 30 school zones in various districts.
Even if they wanted to station deputies in every school zone, Capt. Willie Taylor said, “We wouldn’t be able to, because there’s not enough of them.”
TCSO typically has 10-15 deputies working traffic each morning, Taylor said, so they rotate between various zones throughout the county. And they’re not just sitting in school zones waiting to pull people over. “If there’s a significant call for service, the deputy will have to leave the school zone and respond to that.”
If parents or neighbors are concerned about a specific area, Taylor said, they should call the office’s non-emergency number to request a deputy to check it out.
Whoever is responsible for improving the safety of the road, Brown said, she just wants to see something change. “I’ve tried before and nothing’s happened.”