Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

TOP STORY >> District, city seek solutions

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Dr. Frank Holman, superintendent of Cabot schools, has been working with Mayor Eddie Joe Williams to include the traffic congestion around the schools in Williams’ traffic summit on Friday. “The biggest traffic concerns around the district are in the afternoon when students are being picked up from school by their parents in the afternoons,” Holman said.

In the mornings, the drop-off times are spread out between 7:30 to 8:10 a.m., but in the afternoon, cars begin stacking up at some of the schools by 2:15 p.m. for a 3:20 p.m. dismissal. Pick up is a problem at Southside Elementary School even with two pick-up areas.

The area in the front of the building stacks up onto Hwy. 89 and the pick-up area at the north side of the building stacks up onto the street in the adjacent subdivision, blocking one lane of the street.“People living in and trying to exit this subdivision during school dismissal pull into the left lane to pass the stack of cars and often have to back up because other parents enter that lane to go turn around to get in line,” Holman said.

“One man called to complain because it happened to him three times one day,” he added. Northside Elementary has one pick-up area and inadequate parking according to Holman. Parent vehicles stack up in the afternoon onto Old Mountain Springs Road and out onto Locust Street. “This makes any through traffic difficult and a bit of a safety problem,” Holman said. Middle School South has the worth school traffic problem in the district Holman said.

With the pick-up area in the front of the building, parent vehicles stack onto Panther Trail and out onto Kerr Road. Parents are backed up in both directions on Kerr Road making it impossible for through traffic because there are also “No Passing” signs posted in the area.

At Cabot High School and Junior High North, although traffic is extremely heavy in the area, Holman said it flows relatively smoothly with the school paying for persons to direct the traffic.

“The problem of parents leaving Junior High North will get much worse when the new bypass is finished and Polk Street is closed,” Holman said. “There is a lot of exiting traffic in the afternoon that currently turn west on Polk Street that will have to turn toward Hwy. 38 (Lincoln Street) and turn left into the student traffic in order to get to the new bypass,” Holman said.
The new Stagecoach Elementary School is still under construction, but stacking areas were put into the design plan. Located on about one-eight of a mile off Campground on Stagecoach Road, Holman said it is being built with what should be adequate stacking areas for parents, which will prevent cars from having to be lined up on Stagecoach.

However, there are two concerns for the district and community at this location Holman said. The first concern is that Stagecoach Road needs to be widened at least to the far end of the school’s property.

“When exiting the school in the afternoon, practically every bus will turn south out of the school and go to Campground Road where they will turn left onto Campground,” Holman said, adding, “in the mornings almost all of the buses will come off Campground rather than from Main Street.”

The second concern is that a left turn lane may need to be added on Campground from the top of the hill west of the Stagecoach intersection. “If cars are stopped on Campground to turn left onto Stagecoach, it could be dangerous with traffic coming from the west and topping that hill,” Holman said.

Holman also said that there should not be many students being delivered from the west to the school. “Most will be coming from the eastern part of the district. This may not be a concern, but it needs to be considered,” Holman said. At Westside Elementary School, cars are stacked up onto the shoulder of Hwy. 3667 in the afternoon, Holman said. “It is not ideal, but traffic does not get blocked there and the district has not received complaints,” he said.

Traffic is bad sometimes at Magness Creek Elementary Holman said, with some days cars backing up onto Hwy. 5, which is very dangerous. “This is not an everyday occurrence, but happens too often for comfort,” he said. Holman said traffic at Central Elementary flows as well as possible and that at Eastside Elementary, traffic flow is in good shape. “The biggest problems are the narrow intersections (Main and Bellamy and Bellamy and Lillie) for buses turning,” Holman said.

Drainage ditches in that area also drop off several feet. The city worked on the Bellamy/Lillie intersection last year and on Main/Bellamy intersection earlier this month, but Holman said some additional permanent repair is still needed. And last but not least, Ward Central Elementary, which Holman said even with its heavy traffic, the school is isolated enough that there are no real safety issues related to traffic.

“The traffic clears out without causing too much inconvenience to that neighborhood,” Holman said.