Ask The Advocate: What's going on with flashing school lights two hours before school starts? _lowres

Advocate staff photo by GAVIN JACKSON Photo shot on 8/19/10 --- Trax #00022706A --- Slug: solar--- A school bus drives past one of the new solar-powered school zone warning lights near Lasalle Elementary School on Lasalle Avenue in Baton Rouge on Thursday, August 19, 2010. Several schools in the area have the new solar-powered warning lights, helping kick off the new school year.

QUESTION: Numerous school zones in East Baton Rouge Parish start their flashing lights two hours before school starts. At times there are no lights on in the school for hours after the lights start to flash. Also, the signs say 4 p.m. even though school gets out at 2:30 p.m. Are these school zone lights correct?

ANSWER: Parish school system spokeswoman Adonica Y. Pelichet Duggan notes that school zone times are set by the city-parish, which keeps them the same “so the public is not confused.”

The school zone times are on weekdays during the school year from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Ingolf A. Partenheimer, the chief traffic engineer for the city-parish, notes that “in the past, school times fluctuated yearly and the signs had to cover the different start and end times. It was decided that the expanded start and end times would cover the different school start and end times and thus not confuse the drivers.

“School zones times could be decreased if the new school times have been firmed up. We will coordinate with the school system and see what can be done especially in areas where electronic school flashers are installed.

Let there be light

QUESTION: Why are there are no street lights on the OLOL (Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center) half of Summa Avenue. It is dark at night and has dangerous curves. Also, there have been some recent car break-ins in this area.

ANSWER: Partenheimer answered this question for us as well: “Roadway lighting within the city limits is funded by a dedicated millage on the property. In the parish, there is no street light millage attached to the properties unless they are within a Consolidated Road Lighting District or if the subdivision was set up to pay for its street lights directly to the utility company. This funding ensures that there is money to pay for the power and maintenance of a street light.

“As in the case of a gap between the city limits and a road lighting district, the surrounding owners may not have chosen to join the lighting district when it was formed.”

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