Motorists will soon see radar speed signs along Continental Drive near Hillcrest Elementary School even though a panel of commissioners rejected a version of the idea only weeks ago.
Trustees for Butte School District No. 1 agreed Monday night to pay more than $15,000 for the signs and the county will install and maintain them. Butte-Silver Bow commissioners gave their OK to the arrangement last week.
“It really looked like this was going to be shot down, but there are other ways to do things,” Commissioner Cindy Perdue-Dolan said Tuesday.
Public Works Director Dave Schultz said it could take a month to get the signs ordered and delivered and several days to get them installed with power. But they could be up within five to six weeks.
The signs will show the speed limit, which drops from 35 mph to 25 mph during school hours at Hillcrest, and flash speeds of approaching vehicles from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days.
In October, the council’s Public Works Committee recommended against the county paying for and installing permanent radar signs at the school. They could cost up to $9,000 each and county officials said many drivers would ignore permanent signs, just as they do other speed-limit signs.
The committee voted instead to have mobile signs placed at Hillcrest, but like other locations in town, only temporarily.
Several residents took their case to the full council, saying the signs were needed to protect kids because many drivers speed along that stretch of Continental and the speed limit during school hours is 25 mph, not 15 mph as in other school locations.
A few aimed barbs at the council, essentially saying they didn’t care about child safety, and that sparked terse responses from some commissioners. The council agreed only to seek input from state transportation officials on the issue.
But Perdue-Dolan reached out to Butte school officials and Superintendent Judy Jonart said she would try to find money within their budget to pay for the signs, saying it was a matter of protecting kids.
Schultz then had the agreement drawn up that got the final OK needed from school trustees Monday night.
The purchase of two signs and mounting posts is estimated at $15,865, which the school district will cover. The county will have them installed, provide power and maintain them.
The school district agrees to pay for new signs should they need replacing and the county would handle their operation after that.
Perdue-Dolan said she was “very excited” that a deal was worked out because it would enhance child safety.
“We thought about a public-private partnership but working with the school district was the way to go,” she said.