Traffic may be slower along Highway 90 this upcoming school year as the Florida Department of Transportation reviews vehicular congestion near the West Florida Baptist Academy.
Vice Principal Mike Brown of the academy approached the Board of County Commissioners last week, asking for an enforceable 20 mph school zone.
"Only by God's grace, I think, there has not been an accident up to this point," Brown said. "All it would take is one accident to realize how big of a problem it is."
Access to the school is limited, creating a dangerous issue for commuters, according to Brown. Traffic coming from the east must make a U-turn and cross lanes of traffic to enter the school. Traffic leaving the school, attempting to head west, must cross traffic and execute a U-turn to leave.
"We have a hard time understanding why something has not been done about this," Brown said. "I know there is a financial crunch, but we also know that we should put our children first."
Brown said he is concerned for the safety of the students and the public as well. The school teaches pre-k through high school, so there are younger drivers commuting to-and-from school.
"Their judgment is not always the greatest," Brown said. "They pull out and don't make the right decision, something devastating could happen."
There is an advisory speed limit reduction in the corridor in place at the moment. The zone recommends 45 mph, but Brown says there's no enforcement, of the recommended guideline.
"I can pretty much guarantee you that nobody pays attention to it," Brown said. "It's totally ignored. And they just fly through there at least 55 mph, if not more."
The academy has asked the FDOT to look into the matter in the past and has been denied, according to the principal.
Ian Satter from the FDOT says they will take a specific look into the situation. The school had been denied their requests in the past for a reduced speed area based on a lack of pedestrian activity, a key element in creating a school zone. Speed limits are typically there to protect children from hazardous walking conditions.
The commissioners asked the principal if the school would commit fund any potential projects.
"That would be a huge expense on our part," Brown said.