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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Getting There: Safe driving urged in Spokane school zones as classes begin Tuesday

As students head back to school Tuesday, Spokane city officials are reminding motorists to slow down in school zones and watch for pedestrians crossing streets.

“With the start of the school year, we’re asking motorists to be vigilant about safety on our streets,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement. “Heed the need to watch your speed.”

The Spokane Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be out enforcing traffic violations as school resumes for both pedestrians and motorists, the department said. Tickets can run from $68, for crossing the street somewhere other than a crosswalk or intersection, to up to $139 for when a motorist fails to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

“Any intersection, whether it’s striped or not, is a crosswalk,” said Annie Deasy, program coordinator for Spokane’s Neighborhood Services.

Pedestrians should cross the street on a “walk” signal. If there isn’t a signal, they should look left, right and left again before crossing at marked crosswalks or intersections.

“Kids are going back to school, so you are going to see more pedestrians out at certain times of day, especially children,” Deasy said.

Spokane police spokeswoman Julie Humphreys said police will also focus on citing school bus arm violations for drivers who pass stopped school buses with the crossing arm extended. Bus drivers and witnesses can help officers by reporting license plate numbers.

“When the bus driver puts that arm down, it’s for a reason,” Humphreys said. “Children might be crossing the street.”

Shauna Harshman, manager of neighborhood connectivity initiatives for the Spokane City Council, said traffic safety concerns are universal across the city. At traffic-calming workshops held this summer with 29 Spokane neighborhoods, Harshman heard residents report speeding and cut-through traffic on residential streets as top problems, she said.

The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph. It’s 25 mph on residential streets and 30 mph on arterials.

To help with enforcement, traffic cameras are in place at schools throughout the city. In addition to 12 red-light cameras, there are five school-zone speed cameras at four elementary schools.

In 2021, infractions caught by school zone cameras resulted in $4,266,415 in fines. Revenues from those infractions fund the city’s Traffic Calming Program.

Three new school-zone cameras are planned to be installed later this fall: one at Roosevelt Elementary and two covering Ferris High School and Adams Elementary. Locations were chosen in consultation with the school district and police department, Harshman said.

Free yellow and black “Neighbors Drive 25” signs reminding motorists of the speed limit on local access streets can be picked up at the nearest COPS (Community-Oriented Policing Services) shop or the MySpokane 311 counter at City Hall. The signs are funded by the city’s Traffic Calming Program.

Work to watch for

The rebuild of Riverside Avenue downtown continues between Division and Monroe streets is continuing. Washington Street is closed at Riverside Avenue downtown for this $4 million project that creates new bicycle lanes and replaces a water line.

Crews will begin paving a Moran Prairie street on Tuesday. Workers will be paving 44th Avenue between Crestline and Altamont streets, as well as build curbs and sidewalks. The road will be closed for this work.

Knox Avenue between Wall and Howard streets in the Emerson/Garfield neighborhood will be closed starting Tuesday for construction of water and sewer lines, as well as stormwater treatment vaults.

Trent Avenue will be closed between Iron Bridge Way and the Spokane River on the east bank on Tuesday and Wednesday.

City Line construction will close periodically Pine Street between Main Avenue and Spokane Falls Boulevard and Cincinnati Street between Springfield Street and the Centennial Trail. Work will also reduce traffic to one lane each direction on Mission Avenue between Hamilton and Superior streets.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.