Crosswalk by high school concerning to village board

Members seeking lights, better visibility on Grand Avenue intersection
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Concerns about children crossing Grand Avenue between Wittenberg Elementary and Middle School and Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School are prompting the village of Wittenberg to seek help from Shawano County.

There is a crosswalk on Grand Avenue, but the village is looking at other measures to make it more visible, such as flashing lights on a crosswalk sign and a street light in the vicinity of the crossing.

“They put two signs on it, but now the school is wondering about a street light,” said village board member Paul Yeager. “If we could get a flashing yellow light, though.”

Yaeger noted the signs that are posted are “very dark,” and that some students in the winter months are crossing the road early in the morning before the sun is up, which puts them at risk when vehicles are driving on the road.

“There is one girl that walks there at six o’clock, and that crosswalk is just pitch black,” Yaeger said.

Because Grand Avenue is part of County Road Q, the village is wondering if the county would be able to assist with lighting. Yaeger said that County Highway Commissioner Grant Bystol has been accommodating with other requests, including moving the crosswalk signs so they’d be visible to high school students leaving WBHS.

“Our elementary kids are walking there. Sometimes they’re going to the pool,” Yaeger said. “At 3:30, some kids are walking home.”

Board member Marlene Wepner agreed that something needed to be done to avoid any crashes.

“Traffic goes fast,” Wepner said.

Board member David Timm noted that, even with all the precautions, it might not deter all speeders on Grand Avenue to slow down.

“There might be a certain few that just don’t stop,” Timm said.

Board member Tanya Lange recommended that brighter paint be used on the crosswalk to make it more visible, even at night.

“I would like to see yellow paint on the road,” Lange said. “With the signs, it might help.”

Board member Theresa Gatz recommended that the village also look at signs and lights on Grand Avenue at the intersection with Wittenberg Family Restaurant. She noted that’s a high pedestrian area, as well, and presents just as much risk of vehicles hitting someone crossing the street.

“That is also a very busy child area,” Gatz said. “Most school zones in the larger cities, they have (lights). It’s not like it’s foreign to them.”

Gatz added that the village and the county shouldn’t wait until there is a crash at either intersection to do something about it.

“That doesn’t sit well with me,” Gatz said. “Just because there hasn’t been an incident doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking out for these kids that are crossing the road.”

The village planned to contact Bystol about the flashing lights. A street light would be the village’s responsibility, however, and the board is expected to take up the issue at its next meeting March 5.