The New Orleans City Council unanimously approved an extension of school zone hours last Thursday, July 12. Prior to the vote, school zone speed limits were enforced from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Now, they will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. — a total of four hours per day.
"Prepare to be ticketed if you speed during these hours in these school zones," said Council president Jackie Clarkson. (Speeders currently pay $116 for driving up to 10 mph over posted limits, and the fee schedule escalates from there.)
Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed the extension earlier this year. "Because school start and end times are less standardized post-Katrina, the city is looking to extend zone times from 90 minutes to two hours each as the current hours are outside of many of their start and end times," reads a March 2 news release from Landrieu's office. Representatives from the city's two public school systems — the Recovery School District and Orleans Parish Public Schools — expressed support for the measure, calling it a safety precaution.
Councilwoman At-Large Stacy Head, however, asked that the city not adjust traffic cameras to the new hours until after conducting "a robust public awareness campaign." Former interim Councilman Eric Granderson, who now works for the Landrieu Administration, agreed, saying, "it's in everyone's interest" to make sure people are informed of the change.
No timetable for enforcement was set. — Charles Maldonado