Chaparral Elementary School students can safely cross Higley Road now that a long-awaited traffic signal at Higley and Frye roads was turned on Wednesday afternoon, almost a year after the Higley Unified School District had requested it for student safety.
The busy intersection presented a problem for students who live west of Higley Road when Chaparral opened in fall 2007.
The district has been busing students who normally wouldn't receive bus service so they could safely get to school.
Gilbert town officials told the district it would have to wait at least two years until road-widening work at that intersection was finished.
The town also maintained it couldn't put in a temporary crosswalk or light, and the only solution for the district was to continue busing until a permanent light was put in.
However, the construction project hit a snag after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled earlier this year Gilbert could not use eminent domain to take a homeowner's property inside a county island near the northwest corner of the intersection.
Once that happened, town officials decided to put in the traffic signal that the Higley school district had requested.
Gilbert spokesman Garin Groff said the town wanted to make sure the $248,000 signal was activated before school was back in session.
School starts in the Higley district on Aug. 4.
"There was a concern about limited visibility," Groff said. "The town wanted to ensure that there was a signal to make it safer for children to cross."
Town workers are also putting in a crosswalk at the intersection, Groff said.
Ed Moore, Higley board president, thanked the town for putting in the lights.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that the town of Gilbert recognized that the delay in the widening of the road shouldn't delay the light and that the need was profound," Moore said.
Assistant Superintendent Denise Birdwell said, "We're actually thrilled."