Cobb County is moving quickly to improve pedestrian safety in front of Wheeler High School where two students were hit by a car.
Two teens were struck by a car and badly injured while walking in a crosswalk in front of Wheeler on Saturday. Last fall, the high school’s principal had asked the county for improvements to the crosswalk, but a study of pedestrian traffic near the school didn’t find any changes were needed.
Now the county is in the midst of a second study and considering adding signs and flashing lights to the crosswalk on Holt Road near the school in Marietta, said county spokesperson Ross Cavitt. Holt Road is two lanes, with a reversible lane running the length of the Wheeler High School property.
Cavitt said the flashing lights would be similar to those on Lower Roswell Road at the entrance to Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center in Marietta, Cavitt said.
A final decision on changes to the crosswalk would take place only after county leaders receive and review the results of the second pedestrian traffic study. Cavitt said changes could be considered at an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.
The two teenagers were crossing the crosswalk on the northbound side of Holt Road around 7 p.m. Saturday when they were struck by a black 2007 Mercedes Benz SLK350 driven by 73-year-old Nancy Valentine of Marietta. As of Thursday afternoon, charges have not been filed in the case.
Both teens were hospitalized for their injuries and one had life-threatening injuries. Cobb police spokesperson Neil Penirelli said Thursday that the victims’ conditions have improved.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reached out to the Cobb County School District for a comment on the crosswalk incident. “Due to concerns regarding accuracy in reporting, the Cobb County School District will not be providing responses to the AJC or its affiliates,” school district spokesperson Nan Kiel said in a statement. She offered no additional details on the district’s refusal.
Wheeler High School Principal Peter Giles talked to county commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area that includes Wheeler, about his concerns for Holt Road. The Cobb Department of Transportation did a pedestrian traffic study for that area in response to the concerns. However, Cavitt said the results did not show there was a need for an updated crosswalk to be added.
“We realized the study may not have fully captured pedestrian traffic because it is such a roller coaster of trends,” he said, noting that traffic across this section of Holt Road varies greatly by the time of day and week due to events. “So we had planned a second study, ironically this week, to revolve around some events at Wheeler.”
Ott said the county’s transportation department must to follow federal guidelines when it comes to adding new traffic calming devices along roadways. Those guidelines include determining whether certain criteria are met before making improvements.
“This has been going through the process since he and I have talked about it,” said Ott, referring to the conversation he had in November with Wheeler’s principal.
If the results of the study come back finding new crosswalk signalization is warranted, Ott said the county could move forward “as soon as possible” on installing the new devices. If the cost is under $50,000, it does not have to come before the County Commission for a vote and can be approved by the county manager.
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