Afternoon lights pave the way for safer travel for students at Maple – Superior Telegram

MAPLE — Flashing lights will greet afternoon motorists on U.S. Highway 2 near middle and elementary schools in the Northwest starting Sept. 1.

The wig wag lights, installed at the end of June, are the result of a year-long effort to improve student safety in the Maple School District. The lights alert motorists that they are coming to a school entrance with a suggested speed limit of 45 mph.

The school district’s transportation office can control the lights, according to district administrator Sara Croney. They will flash for approximately 30 minutes during school closure, approximately between 3:10 p.m. and 3:40 p.m., to allow 15 buses to make a left turn through traffic from Wiehe Road toward Northwestern High School.

“We purposely have them only when needed, because we just don’t want people…to be immune to them,” Croney said.

Flashing lights are an upgrade to warning signs that were placed near schools in September 2021 to encourage traffic to slow down. The new lights were funded in part by the local municipalities served by the district.

Buses pick up students from Northwestern Elementary and Middle Schools each afternoon, then travel to Northwestern High School to pick up high school students. In March 2021, the district began running buses on side roads in the Village of Poplar and the Town of Maple, approximately 2.4 miles from the back of Northwestern Middle School on Wiehe Road, Bayfield Road, Gonschorek Loop and a small segment of Douglas County F to Northwestern High School.

The move raised concern from residents along the road, as well as town and village officials. When half of a 48-inch culvert along the Gonschorek Loop collapsed as a grader passed over it, the area was closed to through traffic. School buses have returned to US Highway 2.

Representatives from Maple, Poplar, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the school district held ad hoc meetings to find solutions. Options included warning signs and flashing lights.

The school district has requested a $600 donation from each municipality and village it serves to help offset the cost of the lights. The towns of Amnicon, Hawthorne, Highland, Iron River, Lakeside and Maple and the Village of Poplar each pledged $600 to the district.

From left to right, Dan Bergsten, Trustee of the Village of Poplar; Sara Croney, district administrator for the Maple School District; Mike Granlund, vice-president of the Maple School Board; and Brad Larrabee, principal of Northwestern and Iron River Elementary Schools, stand by a flashing warning light along U.S. Highway 2 near Northwestern Middle School Tuesday, Aug. 16. The lights, which were installed at the end of June, will flash for 30 minutes. every afternoon of the week to increase bus safety.

Contribution / Maple School District

A handful of Hughes residents also donated for the effort. Croney said she attended four Hughes Town board meetings to talk about the request, but the board did not vote to allocate funds for the lights.

However, council members Joel Kolling and Gerald Olson each donated their $161.61 paycheck and citizens of the Town of Hughes also contributed for the lights – James Upthegrove and Kevin Armbruster each donated $100 , John and Ellen Creegan donated $100.

“I think it was so powerful, and it was so touching. (Maple School Board Member) Mike Granlund was sitting right there and so was I, and I was just kind of overwhelmed by that generosity,” said Croney.

It was an unprecedented moment in his career, the administrator said. Council members thanked the municipalities and individuals who donated funds for the lights at their August 15 meeting.

The towns of Cloverland and Brule, as well as the village of Lake Nebagamon, voted not to donate funds for the lights. The district took the last $4,000 of the cost from its general fund.

“We knew the burden, the bulk of the burden had to be on us because we were doing the child safety initiative,” Croney said.

She is delighted that it is done and delighted to see them arrive when school starts on September 1st. It’s a reminder to motorists that buses are trying to get on the road safely.

“If people are paying attention, slow down and let them cross,” Croney said.

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