Mothers take matters into their own hands, direct traffic at busy intersection in St. George

ST. GEORGE — After several attempts trying to get a crossing guard at two crosswalks adjacent to each other, about 15 mothers within Little Valley took matters into their own hands by stepping into the roles of crossing guards.

Little Valley Elementary students wait to cross a crosswalk on Crimson Ridge Drive with no appointed crossing guard, St. George, Utah, Sept. 15, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

The beginning and end of struggles for the mothers started when the city of St. George closed several roads in the area and rerouted traffic through neighborhoods.

On Sept. 2, the city of St. George notified residents of the area mainly by social media of a road closure happening on Horseman Park Drive. Between Quarry Ridge Drive and 2240 E. would be completely off limits to vehicles due to “utility connection roadway work,” as stated by the notification.

The reroute would direct traffic off Quarry Ridge Road onto Crimson Ridge Drive and over to 2350 E. and vice-versa. The road closure of Horseman Park Drive and traffic reroute started on Sept. 6. The road closure is directly east, down the road from Little Valley Elementary and Sunrise Ridge Intermediate.

The coordinated reroute path of traffic ran right alongside both schools. The city had assigned crossing guards for Horseman Park Drive and 2350 E. but did not consider and preplan any sort of action needed for Crimson Ridge Drive, the road which traffic would be running along.

Along Crimson Ridge Drive between Quarry Ridge and Little Valley Road, there was only one spot with crosswalks. Both at Crimson Ridge and 2350 E. This was where the mothers realized almost immediately there was a problem and risk to the children present.

“It was already kind of scary before this happened and when they built this new road out here, and now everybody comes up right here, and it like tripled the traffic,” Laura Hintze, one of the mothers said.

Hintze, a former prosecuting attorney, and several mothers seeing the amount of traffic and the number of children reached out to the city to relay their concerns and ask for a crossing guard. Originally, the city replied that it already being an area “not approved” by a previous study for an official crossing guard, would not get one now. Other replies were they needed to do a test and study to be able to draw up a conclusion if the amount of traffic and students present would mandate the need for a crossing guard.

The Map released by the city on social media announcing construction and road closures, St. George, Utah, Sept. 2, 2022 | Map courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News

“No, no, You don’t have time to do tests,” Hintze said was their response to them. “You should have done your tests before you rerouted everyone. You need it like yesterday.”

The mothers faced multiple ‘red tape’ regulations, paperwork, procedural steps, and more. These restrictions slowed what was viewed as an immediate need for a crossing guard to be fulfilled by the mothers.

“So we were like, we have to do something,” Hintze said. “So we did a sign-up and taking turns being a crossing guard since the city is not going to do it.”

The crossing guard sign-up sheet went to local social media groups, and almost immediately, they had a near-filled schedule of “Guardian Mothers” to serve duty as a crossing guard.

“We are sure they (city of St. George) are not happy about it,” Hintze said. “We are not trained and professional crossing guards, but we rather have our kids safe.”

After they started performing crossing guard duties, they were told multiple times by representatives of the city government and the local construction workers that they should not be stopping traffic. The mothers continued to direct traffic and ensure children were crossing the roads safely.

Hintze set up the schedule while another one of the mothers, Kate Davidson, along with other parents, worked on contacting and ensuring the city heard the concerns and complaints.

“It has been a lot of work which was really not needed,” Davidson said. “There should be no hesitancy from the city when it comes to the safety of our children.”

On Sept. 15, St. George News sent a reporter to the area of concern during the minutes of the time school lets out from 3:30 p.m. to a little before 4 p.m. The disputed crosswalks within that time had masses of students and long lines of vehicles with confusion present on both drivers’ and kids’ faces.

Over 80 kids were counted within the area. There was no posting of speed limits within the area. Five vehicles went through the crosswalks while children were still in them. Approximately 50% of the vehicles traveling on Crimson Ridge Drive were estimated to be speeding in the residential neighborhood. Over a dozen houses on the street had put up signs telling drivers to slow down.

The kids traveled by walking, bike, scooter, and even rollerblades. Some kids were cautious, while others sped through the streets and crosswalks.

Ann Hatch (left) is making sure kids cross the street within the crosswalk safely. Laura Hintze (on the bike) and she are among the mothers who took action to become crossing guards to ensure students’ safety, St. George, Utah, Sept. 15, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

“Ridiculous,” Ann Hatch, a parent, said. “With all of these kids and cars, they need a guard here. It affects traffic and causes mass problems. Kids are afraid to go, drivers are afraid to go. It is a mess.”

Immediately, Hatch began directing traffic and ensuring kids were crossing safely.

Later that afternoon, St. George News reached out to representatives of the City, the St. George Police Department, and the Washington County School District with the data observed.

Friday morning, SGPD Sgt. Jeremy Needles called St. George News with an official statement containing reasoning for no crossing guard at the present time. However, Needles reported they had a representative surveying the area in question the day before and after school. He said he was happy to report that “an official crossing guard would be assigned to the crosswalks at Crimson Ridge Drive and 2350 E. starting on Friday and will remain there until the construction is finished.”

“After the construction work is finished, we will perform a study and re-evaluate if there is a need to keep a crossing guard assigned there for students when they are traveling to and from school,” Sgt. Needles said.

Hintze was happy with the announcement.

“We have a crossing guard,” Hintze said. “It is nice to know things really can change.”

Needles reported as well the contractor was ahead of schedule, and the roads under construction should be open by the end of next week. The original time scheduled was 4-6 weeks before the project would be completed.

On Friday, a little after school was let out after 3:30 p.m., Hintze reported enthusiastically to St. George News an official crossing guard was directing traffic at the crosswalks located at the intersection of Crimson Ridge Drive and 2350 E.

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