Rattlesnake And Paxson School Zones Get New Safety Signals

Reduced-speed zones around two Missoula elementary schools gained new flashing yellow lights this week. Drivers on South Higgins Avenue near Paxson School and Rattlesnake Drive approaching Rattlesnake School will see double flashing beacons – sometimes called “bouncing ball” signals – for traffic going both directions as it nears the schools during pertinent hours.

Both streets’ regular speed limits are 30 miles per hour. The speed zones designate slow zones, the Paxson zone at 20 miles per hour and the Rattlesnake zone at 25 miles per hour.

Safety Signal“That sign and those lights demark the school speed zone,” City Engineer Kevin Slovarp said. “Within that zone, you should be traveling that speed or lower when the lights are flashing.”

The lights will flash 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. through the school week, except for Thursday afternoons when students leave school early and the lights will flash 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The lights will not operate during weekends, summers or on holidays.

The initiative for the new lights came from the Missoula City Council, whose Public Works Committee asked the City’s Engineering staff to look at speed zones around all the schools in the city. Paxson and Rattlesnake schools presented the most pressing public safety concerns. Slovarp worked with the Montana Department of Transportation, which purchased the flashing beacons and signs for the City through its safety program.

“The beacons demarking the school zones and their new speed limits make sense for safety,” Slovarp said.

“Kids are present,” he said, “so let’s slow down, be courteous and conscientious about the safety of our young people.”