After student hit by car, parents advocate for a safer road crossing near Century High School

Changes to the intersection of Viola Road Northeast and Cassidy Drive Northeast may include a roundabout for vehicles and a shortened distance for pedestrians to cross.

Ashley Struckmann, the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, helps a group of students cross the road on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at the intersection of Viola Road NE and Century Hills Dr. NE, just outside of Century High School in Rochester. Struckmann has assisted students on Wednesday and Thursday after a 15-year-old boy was hit by a car Tuesday afternoon while crossing the street. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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Two days after witnessing a student get hit by a car at the intersection, Century High School parent Megan Barrone keeps coming back.

In her eyes, it could have been her daughter. It could have been any student anywhere in the district.

"This young man is very, very lucky that he was able to walk away from this accident. Actually the plan on Tuesday was for my daughter to be picked up by Grandma, across the road there," Barrone said. "That could have been my daughter, very easily, and I have younger children that will go to Century. We live in this neighborhood and I have three more kids that will be potentially walking back and forth across this intersection, so I'm invested in finding a safe way for them to get to and from school."

RELATED: Teenager hit by car crossing the street Tuesday afternoon near Century High School

The 15-year-old boy was injured around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, while crossing Viola Road Northeast at its intersection with Cassidy Drive Northeast. The 39-year-old driver of the vehicle was not cited in the crash. Tuesday was the second day of school for high schoolers in the Rochester Public Schools system.


The intersection has been on Olmsted County’s radar long before Tuesday’s crash. An analysis was done in 2017 to determine if a traffic light would be appropriate and an Intersection Control Evaluation report was recently completed. The evaluation report determined a roundabout would be constructed at that intersection.

Megan Barrone, a parent of Century students, poses for a photo Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at the intersection of Viola Road NE and Century Hills Dr. NE, just outside of Century High School in Rochester. Barrone witnessed and provided aid to the 15-year-old student that was struck by a vehicle on Tuesday afternoon while crossing the street. Barrone followed up with phone calls to the school and has stopped by the intersection Wednesday and Thursday to talk with school administrators to try and devise a plan for safer crossing. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Olmsted County Traffic Engineer Nick Sandford said the design would also incorporate a shortened distance for pedestrians to cross as well as a median refuge island and ADA ramps. Requests for design proposals are expected to go out in the near future with the design process completed in 2022 and construction completed in 2023.

Barrone has done more than just return to the intersection. She’s made calls to the school, to the city and made connections with other parents.

“Everyday I'm finding out there are more and more parents, all trying to reach out to whoever they can to try and find immediate solutions and intervene on the long-term solution,” she said. “I've heard more than one parent say if we have to find a group in the neighborhood that needs to do crossing guard duty for the next several weeks until they can implement something more permanent, then we are willing to do that.”

Rochester Public Schools Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel said in a statement that safety is the district’s top priority.

“We are committed to working with Olmsted County and the City of Rochester to address the safety of this roadway. Currently, the District is working with the Safe Routes to School coordinator and other departments, including the City of Rochester Police Department, on immediate but sustainable safety measures,” said in a news release.


What the immediate solution might be is still in the works. Century Principal Nate Walbruch, School Resource Officer Tim Condon and Ashley Struckmann, a Safe Routes to School coordinator, were outside the school at the intersection to observe the pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The trio has been watching the intersection during after-school hours since the crash.

"At least officer Condon and I, we will do this over the next few days to help us get a scope of what it looks like every day out here," Walbruch said. "Once we kind of get an idea of what the reality is, then we can develop a solution that actually works."

A group of students wait to cross the road on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at the intersection of Viola Road NE and Century Hills Dr. NE, just outside of Century High School in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Post Bulletin reporter Jordan Shearer contributed to this report.


Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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