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Ask the Times: What happened to the smiley face speed sign?

Ask the Times: What happened to the smiley face speed sign?


A new frontier Neil Armstrong Elementary School, Bettendorf, is ready to welcome students. A 4-page preview of the school will help you get ready for the open house Sunday. Pages 3-6. July 20, 2007. (Photo by Larry Fisher/Quad-City Times)

Q. I drive along Central Avenue near Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Bettendorf frequently and noticed the sign reminding drivers to slow down has disappeared. Several weeks ago it caught me driving below the posted speed limit, and the sign displayed a smiley face. That really put a smile on my face. What happened to it? I miss seeing this sign and the smiley face I wanted to earn by slowing my speed.

The speed signs near the Pleasant Valley schools indicate you are speeding even though it is outside the school zone time which is very irritating to me. I would think these would be synced with the times when the speed is suppose to be reduced because of the beginning or ending of the school day. These speed signs continued to run throughout the summer months. – Karen, LeClaire, Iowa

A. We contacted the Bettendorf Police Department to find out. Bettendorf Police Chief Keith T. Kimball responded:

"After speaking with our Traffic Sergeant, he sent me the below response which I believe best explains everything and should provide you the best answer.

"The Bettendorf Police Department and Public Works Department have been studying the best way to address school zones in the city of Bettendorf. One of the challenges in the community is that we have two different school districts operating within our boundaries. While these two districts have similar schedules, they are different at times and it can be difficult for motorists to know when school is in session at each particular school. Another challenge is that school facilities are being used at all times of the day and year, not just on formalized school days.

"The technology currently deployed at several of the school zones is older and does not permit us change speed zones based on time or day. We are looking at solutions that allow us to program school calendars into software or use a flashing beacon system so the signs/speed limits are active only during scheduled school days/events. We are also evaluating if it would be better to change all of your school zones to the same times to limit the confusion of motorists. During the last couple of summers we have actually turned the signs off while school is not in session as to avoid an confusion. The goal is to have any changes to school zones speed limits and signage occur over the summer months so the public can be educated prior to the start of school in the fall.

"The sign that was installed on Central Avenue last month was purchased by the Police Department in July and has been used multiple locations since that time. The sign is designed to be portable and can be deployed to areas where we are getting traffic complaints, similar to the radar/speed trailers the department also has. This first sign was purchased as a test unit and also has the technology/programming abilities mentioned above for use in our school zones. We wanted to test a new system prior to making any changes across the city and may purchase additional signs in the coming years."

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.



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