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Photo of a flashing beacon in a school zone.

Changes coming in summer 2018:

Changes from this past spring:

What is a school zone?

A school zone includes designated roadways surrounding and near a school where additional care is needed due to an increase in school-related pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

A school zone extends up to 300 feet from the border of the school property, or at least 300 feet from a school crossing. Standard school speed limit signs mark the beginning of a school zone. The school zone includes only areas of active school use.

Why are changes being made?

School zones are being enhanced as part of the county’s School Safety Program which aims to improve the safety of students, pedestrians and drivers in or around all schools in unincorporated King County. As part of the School Safety Program, the county is looking to reduce the likelihood of a crash where a greater number of pedestrians and vehicles are present.

By driving at a lower speed, the distance required to stop will be shorter if a driver must come to an unexpected stop. In the event there is a crash, the likelihood of a severe injury or fatality is also reduced. Additionally, slower traffic increases the comfort for pedestrians walking in school zones.

How are motorists and neighbors affected by the signs?

By signing all school zones, drivers will know how they are expected to drive when driving through a school zone in King County.

Motorists will be required to drive 20 mph or less when flashing beacons are active, creating safer conditions for pedestrians and other vehicles. Motorists can expect to add a small amount of time to their trips.

The placement of flashing beacons is as non-obtrusive as possible. Flashing beacons are directed towards traffic, and are equipped with visors to mitigate light from entering windows. Where possible, flashing beacons are offset from the edge of the roadway to allow parking and other on-street activities.

How do the signs work?

"School Speed Limit 20 MPH, When Flashing" signs will flash to alert road users of the time periods for which the school speed limit is in effect.

When do they flash?

In the morning, the flashing beacons are activated 30 minutes before school starts to 5 minutes after school has started. In the afternoon, flashing beacons are activated 5 minutes before dismissal to 30 minutes after dismissal.

Are they solar powered?

The county typically designs flashing beacons to be solar powered. If flashing beacons are not able to obtain an adequate charge, they can be connected to an AC power source.

Camelot Elementary school zone changes
(summer 2018)

What kind of improvements are being made near Camelot Elementary which is located on S. 298th Street near Federal Way?

1. Flashing beacons

  • The existing flashing beacon on the north side of South 298th Street will be relocated 100 feet east. The second existing beacon will remain in its current location.
  • Additional school zone flashing beacons will be installed at:
    • 39th Place South for southbound traffic approaching the South 298th Street intersection.
    • 40th Place South for southbound traffic approaching the South 298th Street intersection.
  • All flashing beacons will be supplemented with School Speed Limit 20 MPH, When Flashing signs.

2. Parking sign adjustments

A No Parking Zone will be established on the north side of South 298th Street east of the crosswalk at 39th Place South. The No Parking Zone will increase the visibility of both pedestrians in the crosswalk and vehicles in the roadway.

3. Lighting improvements

New lighting will be installed at both crosswalks in front of the school.

4. Other improvements

  • The existing pedestrian walkway curb along South 298th Street will be restored.
  • The pedestrian Advanced Warning sign on South 300th Street, which is directed toward eastbound traffic, will be relocated 500 feet west. A second pedestrian advanced warning sign on South 300th Street will stay in its current location. This will provide signage for both traffic directions approaching these access points.
  • A School Zone Advance Warning sign will be installed prior to each flashing beacon to warn motorists that they are approaching the school zone. An End School Zone sign will be provided on the opposed side of the road near each beacon.

Campbell Hill Elementary school zone changes
(summer 2018)

What kind of improvements are being made near Campbell Hill Elementary which is located on South 124th Street in Skyway?

1. Flashing Beacon

  • The three existing flashing beacons will remain in their current locations.
  • All flashing beacons will be supplemented with “School Speed Limit 20 MPH, When Flashing” signs to alert motorists.
  • Additional school zone flashing beacons will be installed for:
    • Eastbound traffic on South 124th Street approaching the Beacon Avenue South intersection.
    • Eastbound traffic on 64th Avenue South where the roadway turns to South 124th Street approaching the front of the school.

2. Parking sign adjustments

The No Parking Zone on the south side and north side of South 124th Street will be modified to improve the visibility of motorists and pedestrians. The parking restrictions are to insure eastbound and westbound traffic have adequate stopping sight distance for pedestrians at the crosswalk.

3. Pavement marking adjustments

Stop bars are being installed at the following locations to reinforce stop signs and inform drivers where to stop before entering an intersection:

  • On the west leg and the east leg of the intersection of Beacon Avenue South and 64th Avenue South.
  • On the east leg of the South 124 Street and Beacon Avenue South intersection (the school driveway exit).

4. Other signing improvements

A School Zone Advance Warning sign will be provided prior to each flashing beacon to warn motorists that they are approaching the school zone. An End School Zone sign will be provided on the opposed side of the road near each beacon.

School zone changes that took place this past spring

Liberty High School, Maywood Middle School, Briarwood Elementary School (near Renton)

How many flashing beacons were installed?

Table 1 below summarizes how many school zone speed limit signs with flashing beacons existed at each school and how many new flashing beacons have been installed.

Table 1 Summary of Existing and New School Zone Speed Limit Signs with Flashing Beacons


Existing New Total
Liberty High School 0 6 6
Maywood Middle School 2 6 8
Briarwood Elementary School 4 2 6

 

Maywood - Briarwood - Liberty School Flashing Beacons
Maywood - Briarwood - Liberty School Flashing Beacon Sites Map
Larger view PDF

Examples of the different types of school zone signs

1. School Advance Warning Signs depict two figures walking side by side. These are typically accompanied by other signs such as the AHEAD signs (Figure 1) and diagonal arrows (Figure 2). These signs let drivers know that they will be entering a school zone or approaching a school zone crosswalk. All signs are reflective and yellow-green in color.

School Zone Advance Warning Sign
Figure 1. School Zone Advance Warning Sign with an AHEAD sign.
School Zone Advance Warning Sign
Figure 2. School Zone Advance Warning Sign with a Diagonal Arrow Sign.

2. School Zone Speed Limit signs (Figure 3) mark the start of a school zone. These signs consist of the word ‘school’, a speed limit, and when the reduced speed limit is enforced. In Figure 3 the asterisk shows where the restriction will go. The reduced speed limit is enforced when the flashing beacons are activated. Figure 4 is an example of a typical school zone speed limit sign with flashing beacons.

School Zone Speed Limit sign
Figure 3. School Zone Speed Limit sign. Asterisk shows where a message will be placed informing drivers when speed limits are reduced
School Zone Speed Limit sign
Figure 4. School Zone Speed Limit sign with flashing beacons.

3. End School Zone Signs inform drivers that they are leaving the school zone. These signs are placed below a speed limit sign. Figure 5 shows an example of a typical end school zone sign.

 Speed Limit sign
Figure 5. Speed Limit Sign with an End School Zone Sign