Lord Baltimore welcomes return of flashing school-zone lights

This is one traffic light people are happy to see: Lord Baltimore Elementary School once again has flashing yellow lights in the school zone, alerting drivers to the 20 mph speed limit during pick-up and drop-off periods.

“The school was very adamant about having the flashers back in place, so that’s what we did,” said Delaware Department of Transportation’s Denny Hehman.

More than a year ago, utility companies began moving lines and pipes to prepare for the expansion of Route 26. In conjunction with the changes, the DelDOT removed the overhead string of lights that flashed daily in front of the school during student drop-off and pick-up.

They were replaced with a simple square sign that read “20 mph when children present.” However, the text was small, and state Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-20th) said residents falsely believed it was an Ocean View police “speed trap” (It was not.) Plus, he said, it was difficult to tell if children were actually present at any given time — especially since the main entrance is slightly hidden from the road.

Although DelDOT representatives said such signs are becoming common in Delaware, Hocker they aren’t clear.

After encouraging DelDOT to replace the flashing lights, he said he was happy to hear they had been returned in early May. Flashers catch people’s attention, he said, and police know when to enforce 20 mph.

“We’re pretty happy that it’s back out there,” said David Maull, Indian River School District spokesperson, who noticed the lights earlier that day. “It’s been a while.”

Lord Baltimore staff can switch the flashers on with a key. The lights stay on for one hour, then automatically turn off.

“If somebody wants the flasher to last longer than an hour, then they’ll need to go back and turn it on again,” Hehman said.

“With the school being on a major road … we think it’s going to provide a much safer school zone,” Maull said.