Leander neighbors worry about children’s safety, speeding near 2 schools

Williamson County

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Some homeowners in Leander’s Catalina Ranch Neighborhood said they’re fed up with drivers speeding through school zones along Journey Parkway near Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Michelle Russell, an Akin Elementary School mom said she worries about her children’s safety.

“It’s just a matter of safety. We’re just trying to protect our kids,” Russell said.

This past summer, Leander PD installed a new pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) along the parkway. Police officers spent time educating the community, but despite their efforts, a Leander mom claims drivers don’t understand.

“It’s just a continued danger. We still have people who don’t understand how these beacons work,” she said. “We don’t want to be the next news story. We don’t want our kids getting hit. We don’t want someone getting hurt in our neighborhood.”

Leander police said they’re continuously working on it.

“The volume of traffic is something that we’re going to have to deal with and we are taking all the appropriate measures that we can to keep everyone safe,” said Brett Engstrom, a police officer with the department.

Since installing the new traffic beacon this summer, Leander PD tells KXAN it issued 12 citations in August to drivers not following the rules. They also tell us patrol teams rotate between as many schools as they can. There are about 15 schools, both public and private, with 43 areas zoned as school zones.

Leander PD isn’t alone in its safety efforts. It’s getting a helping hand from leaders at Leander ISD. District officials said they plan to work with Akin and Stiles school leaders to make sure every family is aware of how to use a traffic beacon. Leander PD tells KXAN it will continue to patrol the area and issue citations when needed.

“I just really want to make sure that with two kids going to the elementary school they’re going to get there safely, that if I want to walk my kids across the street I don’t have to worry about somebody who is not paying attention, or doesn’t know how a hybrid beacon works, blowing through the crosswalk,” Russell said.

For Russell, drivers not obeying the PHB signals is not her only problem. She said drivers speed through the neighborhood streets and use them as a cut-through. While police can issue a citation for speeding, Leander police said using the streets as a cut-through is something they can not stop because those drivers are allowed the thoroughfare as well as the neighbors who live here.

Leander ISD officials said because of the increased traffic in the area, they pay to have two crossing guards at that location.

LISD statement on student safety

Leander ISD’s top priority will always be student safety. We work diligently with each campus and our community to ensure that students are supported in safely traveling to and from school. We would like to once again remind drivers to use extra caution in school zones, as well as during peak travel times for students.

Leander ISD Spokesperson

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