The Town of Aberdeen held a special meeting Sept. 7 and passed an ordinance to reduce the speed limit on N.C. Highway 5 near Farrell Parkway, a feeder street into Aberdeen Elementary School.
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is responsible for speed limits in school zones on roads with direct access to schools, which Aberdeen Elementary School does not meet the criteria.
“NCDOT does have a standard policy for establishing school zone speed limits so long as certain criteria are met,” Matthew Kitchen, of NCDOT Division 8, told Sandhills Sentinel in an email. “This policy strongly discourages the establishment of a school speed zone on a roadway that does not have direct school access, does not abut school property or does not have a significant pedestrian presence. NC 5 does not meet any of the aforementioned general criteria.
“In this case the school zone would be deemed appropriate on Farrell Parkway, however this road is a Town of Aberdeen roadway and any speed zone along this roadway would fall under the discretion of the Town. Please keep in mind the intent of school zone speed limits is to provide motorist awareness primarily for the presence of school kids that may be walking, riding their bikes to school or standing/playing adjacent to the roadway as part of school activity or recess.”
NCDOT recommended reducing the existing 55-mph speed limit on a portion of Hwy 5 down to 45-mph.
The yellow line indicates where the speed reduction will occur on Hwy 5 from Fields Drive to Linden Road. Photo provided.
NCDOT made the recommendation to lower the speed limit following the Aug. 27, 2021 traffic accident when a vehicle hit a school bus when it was making a left turn onto Farrell Parkway. After the accident, parents and a few school board members protested at the school entrance to lower the speed limit. The speed limit change should occur in four weeks.
According to the Town of Aberdeen Board, regulating the traffic patterns with law enforcement is the responsibility of Moore County Schools. In 2018, when the school system sought approval for the elementary school site, the town board required a traffic signal at this intersection.
NCDOT is responsible for traffic signals and said the area currently does not meet the criteria for a traffic light. NCDOT will periodically observe traffic to see if it meets the bench mark for a light.
In a letter dated Aug. 4, 2020, to Moore County Schools from NCDOT, it was decided that a traffic signal may be inappropriate for the short time it was needed during school hours.
The above paragraph is from a letter dated Aug. 4, 2020, from NCDOT to Moore County Schools. Letter provided.
Moore County Schools is conferring with legal counsel on an appeal process for NCDOT’s traffic signal conclusion.
Moore County Schools staff said it has changed traffic patterns on Ferrell Parkway beginning Aug. 30, and the changes stopped most congestion at the intersection by the middle of last week.
The Aberdeen Town Board also held a closed session for over two hours Tuesday and adjourned the meeting without comments.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].