DOT: Peachtree Academy to get school zone

The Covington News - - LOCAL - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

It may be a par­ent’s worst night­mare. Cars speed­ing by their child’s school ev­ery morn­ing and af­ter­noon, think­ing they won’t be the one to hit a stu­dent. Un­til they are the one. Luck­ily, that hasn’t hap­pened yet at Peachtree Academy, where the speed limit on Hwy. 278 is 55 mph, but those in­volved, from the school’s founder to county chair­man and com­mis­sion­ers, don’t want to wait for a tragedy to pre­vent one.

New­ton County Com­mis­sioner Levi Mad­dox, Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (GA­DOE) District Engi­neer Jimmy Smith, Peachtree Founder JaN­ice Van Ness and New- ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­man Keith El­lis have been work­ing with GADOT for about a year to get a school zone des­ig­nated for Peachtree, El­lis said.

GADOT does not usu­ally spend the time and money to cre­ate schools zones for pri­vate schools, El­lis said, be­cause there’s a larger change these small schools will close than pub­lic schools. But since Peachtree opened this lo­ca­tion in 2010, its third branch, en­roll­ment has con­tin­ued to grow, and traf­fic stud­ies con­ducted by GADOT have fa­vored a school zone.

“They wouldn’t want to put them out here and have the school close,” El­lis said.

He said he has not been told what the zone’s speed limit will be but that any­thing lower will make the area safer.

“Wig-wag” flash­ing lights will sig­nify the begin­ning of the school zone.

“You have those four lanes that turn into two,” El­lis said. “We’re try­ing to fix this prob­lem they’ve had ba­si­cally since they started.”

Peachtree founder JaN­ice Van Ness said they knew the lo­ca­tion was great for the school, but they didn’t re­al­ize the amount of traf­fic go­ing through and the as­so­ci­ated dan­gers the high speeds pose.

“It’s safety not just for the par­ents and stu­dents but for the com­mu­nity,” Van Ness said.

For more in­for­ma­tion, look for an up­com­ing short video of El­lis and Van Ness speak­ing about the com­ing school zone on so­cial me­dia.

Kayla Robins/The Cov­ing­ton News

Keith El­lis speaks with JaN­ice Van Ness about the need for a school zone to be im­ple­mented by the state De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion sur­round­ing the en­trance to Peachtree Academy. The cur­rent speed limit is 55 mph.

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