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Woonsocket, Sanborn Central districts to install radar speed signs

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

WOONSOCKET/FORESTBURG — Two Sanborn County school districts are trying to be proactive with student safety.

The Woonsocket and Sanborn Central school districts are each located along a state highway, creating "safety hazards" for students who walk across the roadway each day for various activities. To ensure students' safety and deter drivers from speeding, each district is looking to install solar-powered radar speed signs near the school, according to Woonsocket Superintendent Rod Weber.

The Sanborn County Commission donated $5,000 to purchase two of the four signs, and other local donations have exceeded $3,500, totaling $8,500 of the project's total cost of $10,000. An installation date has not yet been set.

The signs will be placed at the beginning of each school's "speed zone," Weber said.

"With heavy traffic continually going by the school all day long, there is obvious issues with speeding," Weber said. "The radar speed signs have seemed to be effective in other communities and they continue working 24 hours a day."

Currently, the Woonsocket school has yellow school zone flashing signs to encourage drivers to slow down near the school, but they are only on at certain times each day during the school year, such as before and after school hours and during lunch period. The flashing lights were installed 12 years ago, and have been effective, Weber said, but he wanted an option that would run 24/7.

The addition will be beneficial for the Sanborn Central district, as it also sits along a highway with a speed limit of 65 mph, Superintendent Justin Siemsen said. He hopes the signs help inexperienced drivers remain aware of their surroundings.

"Woonsocket has more foot traffic to consider being located directly in a town, and Sanborn Central being more rural but having concern due to the speed limit being high through Forestburg, and the potential road hazards that could occur with those speeds and inexperienced drivers pulling onto the highway," Siemsen said.

The radar signs don't mark the end of the Woonsocket district's effort to prevent mishaps near the school.

The Woonsocket district will continue to work with the city of Woonsocket, Sanborn County and the South Dakota Department of Public Safety to create a safety improvement plan, which will include a traffic study, lighted crosswalks, speed zone changes and more, Weber said. The safety plan will take approximately one year to complete, and grants will be pursued to cover the costs of the upgrades.

"I just want to do all I can to improve on preventing anything from happening," Weber said.