Crossing guard will help students cross West Aztec Boulevard
The Aztec Municipal School District is in the process of hiring a paid crossing guard to help students safely cross West Aztec Boulevard at the intersection with Lightplant Road. Aaron Bedoya / USA Today Network
Parents have expressed concerns about children being hit at busy intersection
FARMINGTON — The Aztec Municipal School District is in the process of hiring a paid crossing guard to help students safely cross West Aztec Boulevard at the intersection with Lightplant Road.
The district hopes the crossing guard will decrease the danger for students crossing one of Aztec's busiest roads.
The position will be the only paid crossing guard in the district, according to Superintendent Kirk Carpenter. He said people interested in applying can contact the district offices at 505-334-9474.
"It's been a project we've been trying to do for a couple of years," he said.
The district's new director of transportation, John Laws, worked with the New Mexico Department of Transportation and other entities to get the crossing guard position approved. The position will be funded through the district's Medicaid funding.
Over the years, many parents have expressed concerns after some students have been hit or nearly hit by cars trying to cross the road. Carpenter said there haven't been any serious injuries or deaths at the site, but during a City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal said some children have been hit crossing the intersection. Heal did not go into detail about the incidents, but Carpenter said there have been multiple incidents, including one as recently as the last school year.
There is a traffic light at the intersection, but cars that have a green light have turned while children are crossing the road.
The district hopes to have a crossing guard at the location for more than two hours on school days while children are crossing. Drivers likely will begin seeing the crossing guard in the next week or two, Carpenter said. Classes in the district begin Monday.
"We wanted to do this for years because of the nature of the intersection," Carpenter said.
Lightplant Road is the Aztec section of N.M. Highway 173, and West Aztec Boulevard is part of N.M. Highway 516. West Aztec Boulevard serves as the main east-west thoroughfare through the city.
The issue of children crossing West Aztec Boulevard has created concern for several years, Carpenter said.
The students do not cross only at Lightplant Road. After school, many children cross the highway at the intersection of Hilltop Drive, where Big O Tires is located.
Carpenter said the district will try to redirect students to cross at Lightplant Road.
"We don't condone crossing anywhere else," he said.
Heal warned that the use of a crossing guard could create some traffic congestion.
"I think it's going to be a lot of cars that are going to be backed up," Heal said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.