Lake Jackson City Hall

LAKE JACKSON — Residents worried about their children crossing a major highway to get to school have the ear of the city’s mayor.

Residents of the Northwood subdivision, whose children attend Bess Brannen Elementary, brought their concerns to Mayor Gerald Roznovsky, who brought the subject back to City Council during its meeting Monday night. The intersection of FM 2004 and That Way Street has no school crossing, assigned crossing guards or sidewalk connecting to the school’s property, making it a safety concern, the mayor said.

The first time council considered the issue was in February 2020, when a Northwood parent asked a pedestrian overpass or other measure be taken to improve safety. Council declined to act then, citing the high cost of the overpass.

City Manager Modesto Mundo has a meeting scheduled with the Texas Department of Transportation to ask permission to add a sidewalk to the intersection, he said. Because FM 2004 is a state highway, the transportation department needs to approve any modifications.

“Right now, what’s happening is adults are with their children crossing over, they wind up walking on kind of an asphalt shoulder and it’s kind of painted,” Mundo said. “I think it’s a good idea to put a sidewalk on there. But again, we have to ask for permission from TxDOT to do that.”

The major concern is the current speed makes the crossing unsafe for all pedestrians, Roznovsky said.

“My personal feelings are that even with the drop-down of speed at 35 miles an hour, it just makes it unsafe. It’s not a normal 25 to 20 miles an hour regular crossing,” he said.

The speed on FM 2004 decreases from 50 mph to 35 mph.

“If someone was to disregard the light just out of inattention or what have you, it’s critical,” Lake Jackson Police Chief Paul Kibodeaux said. “It’s even worse than that in a 20-mile-an-hour zone. There’s just not enough reaction.”

He compared the situation at FM 2004 to that on Highway 332 before overpasses were built, when students had to cross the multilane highway. To remedy that situation, Brazosport ISD bused students from one side of the highway to the other, he said.

There are 33 students from Northwood who attend Bess Brannen Elementary, and it would be up to the parents to contact the district about whether busing is an option in this case, Roznovsky said.

Northwood resident Danielle Nelson offered two suggestions that impressed to council members.

Nelson suggested moving the yield line back from its current position slightly to allow for better pedestrian visibility at the right turning lane and to add three to five seconds to the crossing light timer so kids are not running dangerously across the highway trying to make it before the light changes.

“I’m not trying to spend a bunch of money or use resources that aren’t necessary in order for the cars to be able to see the kids crossing because it’s only 10 seconds and my kids are just bolting,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s possible solutions would be good for Mundo to bring to his meeting with the highway department, Roznovsky said.

Councilman Chase Blanchard asked if the city would be able to make the intersection a four-way stop. When the crosswalk light is pushed, if all lights went red, it would allow for a safe crossing, he said.

“That sounds like the safest thing to do,” Councilwoman Rhonda Seth said.

Council took no action after the discussion. Members plan to resume discussions after Mundo’s meeting with the state.

In other business, council discussed results of a traffic study of Any Way Street conducted after a car ran into a home. After hearing the engineer’s report, the council determined no immediate action is needed.

Blanchard disagreed, saying there needed to be more done for the residents of that street to avoid further incidents. He asked that two meetings from now, he be able to bring the matter back to the council.

Council discussed a draft ordinance on mobile food vendor courts and heard the first reading of the ordinance over inspections for massage establishments.

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