KILLEN — Randy Brown travels on U.S. 72 in front of Brooks High School every day. On every trip, he worries about safety because of all the traffic.
“It’s a mad house, that’s the best way I can describe it,” said Brown, who lives on Lauderdale 103 across from the school and works in Decatur. “There’s so much traffic through there all day. Add in the school traffic and it just makes it worse.” Brown, who also is a member of the town’s volunteer fire department, said he has responded through the years to several wrecks in front of the school.
“We’ve had some bad ones, but luckily we’ve not had any fatalities there,” he said.
A Killen police officer routinely parks in the median of U.S. 72 in front of the school, particularly in the mornings and afternoons to encourage motorists to slow down in the school zone. The officer also assists buses as they go in and out of the school parking lot.
“We have to stop traffic to get the buses out in the afternoon,” said Killen police Lt. Bryan Hammond. “We try to have an officer there every day, but there are times when we’re on a call or don’t have enough officers on a shift.”
Brown said the speed of cars passing in front of the school let’s you know immediately if there is police presence nearby.
“It’s bad enough just driving through there, but I would hate to be trying to leave school and cross that traffic to go west on U.S. 72 or even turning east and merging with it,” Brown said. “I’ve been there when the officers are stopping traffic to get the school buses out. I don’t know if they would ever get out without their help.”
Killen Mayor Tim Tubbs said a traffic signal at U.S. 72 and Lauderdale 103, which also is known as Peck Lane, could be the answer.
The only problem is Peck Lane does not cross the highway. George Lindsey Lane is a southbound road on the south side of U.S. 72 and intersects with the access road that runs in front of Brooks High School.
Tubbs said the town would have to acquire land and then work to make sure the roads intersect.
“It’s a problem we need to get corrected,” Tubbs said. “We’ve got 800 students at Brooks High School and that means a lot of cars going in and out of there every day, twice a day.
“It’s just a dangerous situation that we need to do something about.”
Tubbs expressed his concern about the traffic situation at Brooks High School to the state Highway Director John Cooper during his visit to the area this week.
Cooper said traffic signals aren’t always the answer to traffic problems. He said it often has more to do with access roads and side roads. But he told Tubbs that his office will talk with him about the situation and see what help they could provide.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.