Drivers be aware of increased crosswalk traffic flow during peak hours, gate closure Published Aug. 28, 2008 By Brig. Gen. Gary Harencak 509th Bomb Wing commander WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- School is back in session and that, coupled with the increased traffic flow caused by the Arnold Gate closure, provides us with a good opportunity to discuss traffic safety, especially as it pertains to Whiteman Elementary school. I recently asked the installation safety office to survey the Spirit Gate crosswalk. Their survey included an assessment of the crosswalk in the morning from 0730-0830 while children were crossing to go to school and again on their way home from 1515-1545. Overall, the safety office assessed that the Spirit Gate crosswalk was managed well with drivers, parents, children and the crosswalk guard meeting all safety criteria. Although a slight increase in traffic has been noted, it doesn't appear to warrant the need for increased traffic management. That said, the safety office did have some reminders they'd like to get out to drivers, parents and children so crosswalks remain as safe as possible. 1. It's critical that all drivers adhere to posted speed limits. After entering the Spirit Gate some drivers have a tendency to speed beyond the posted 5 MPH speed limit required when children are present. All drivers must be keenly aware upon entering and exiting the Spirit Gate of pedestrians, especially children, attempting to cross the road and exercise caution at all times particularly during peak school crossing times. 2. Both drivers and parents must be aware that the primary Spirit Gate school crossing is approximately 125 feet in front of the Spirit gate. A school crossing guard is present before school and after school at the Spirit crosswalk. Drivers must always stop as soon as the crossing guard displays her stop sign and moves into the road. Drivers should not move again until all children are completely clear of the crosswalk (both the inbound and outbound lanes) and the crossing guard gives them the signal that they are cleared to proceed. 3. Drivers should attempt to stop at least three feet away from the crosswalk to provide enough space between their vehicles and the crosswalk. 4. Parents should ensure their children use the primary crosswalk near the Spirit Gate where the crosswalk guard is stationed and are advised not to allow children to cross at other areas on Spirit Blvd during school hours. The most important thing to remember beyond the tips already mentioned is to look and listen to our professional crosswalk guard, Mrs Tonya Walher, who's been on the job for a number of years now. Tanya takes personal responsibility for the children who use her crosswalk to get to school and refers to them as "her kids." She feels, for the most part, that all on base are very respectful and courteous. Bottom-line, the crosswalk is safe and meets all federal uniform traffic standards and at this point more traffic management isn't needed. To ensure the crosswalk remains safe we will continue to periodically assess the crosswalk and take whatever actions are required to provide the safest school routes for our most precious members of the Whiteman family.