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Posted: August 14, 2014 10:00 p.m.

DOT: Peachtree Academy to get school zone

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Keith Ellis speaks with JaNice Van Ness about the need for a school zone to be implemented by the state Department of Transportation surrounding the entrance to Peachtree Academy. The current speed limit is 55 mph.

It may be a parent’s worst nightmare. Cars speeding by their child’s school every morning and afternoon, thinking they won’t be the one to hit a student.

Until they are the one.

Luckily, that hasn’t happened yet at Peachtree Academy, where the speed limit on Hwy. 278 is 55 mph, but those involved, from the school’s founder to county chairman and commissioners, don’t want to wait for a tragedy to prevent one.

Newton County Commissioner Levi Maddox, Georgia Department of Transportation (GADOE) District Engineer Jimmy Smith, Peachtree Founder JaNice Van Ness and Newton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Ellis have been working with GADOT for about a year to get a school zone designated for Peachtree, Ellis said.

GADOT does not usually spend the time and money to create schools zones for private schools, Ellis said, because there’s a larger change these small schools will close than public schools. But since Peachtree opened this location in 2010, its third branch, enrollment has continued to grow, and traffic studies conducted by GADOT have favored a school zone.

“They wouldn’t want to put them out here and have the school close,” Ellis said.

He said he has not been told what the zone’s speed limit will be but that anything lower will make the area safer.

“Wig-wag” flashing lights will signify the beginning of the school zone.

“You have those four lanes that turn into two,” Ellis said. “We’re trying to fix this problem they’ve had basically since they started.”

Peachtree founder JaNice Van Ness said they knew the location was great for the school, but they didn’t realize the amount of traffic going through and the associated dangers the high speeds pose.

“It’s safety not just for the parents and students but for the community,” Van Ness said.

For more information, look for an upcoming short video of Ellis and Van Ness speaking about the coming school zone on social media.

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