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State House approves bill to establish speed limit zones for boarding schools

by Marc kovac | Capital Bureau Chief Published: May 23, 2016 11:43 AM

Columbus -- Communities would be allowed to establish lower speed limit zones in the vicinity of boarding schools, including Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, under legislation OK'd May 18 by the Ohio House.

HB 455 moved on a unanimous vote and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

The proposed law changes were offered by Reps. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson), both of whom have boarding schools located in their districts.

Existing state law allows school zones with speed limits of 20 mph during certain hours -- before and after school and during recess.

But current state law does not recognize boarding schools as part of those zones, Patterson said.

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HB 455 would enable local communities to establish zones at boarding schools, setting speed limits, effective hours and other details in consultation with school administration and county engineer.

"This bill is entirely permissive," Roegner said. "It's all about local control."

Roegner earlier told lawmakers that there are seven boarding schools in Ohio, including WRA in Hudson, where about half of the 400 students who attend live on campus.

Patterson said a study of the road adjacent to a boarding school in his district tracked more than a third of drivers breaking the posted 35 mph speed limit. Nearly 400 of 5,500 vehicles were clocked at 51-60 mph.

"As you know, it only takes on accident to injure or, God forbid, take a life," Patterson said. "The school, the township trustees and county prosecutors were all in agreement -- College Street needed a special school zone to limit speeds at seemingly odd times/ Current law does not recognize, as I said, the formation of such a boarding school zone, hence the need for this legislation."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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