City planners review new school’s traffic patternDecember 7, 2017
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER— Traffic patterns at the coming Jasper Elementary School were a major part of discussion at the Jasper Plan Commission meeting Wednesday.
Representatives from the Greater Jasper School Corporation presented the preliminary designs and site layout of the school, which will combine Fifth and Tenth Street schools, to the commission.
The corporation plans to build the school on land it already owns on the city’s north side off Portersville Road to the north of Jasper Middle School.
Several commissioners had questions about traffic patterns as the area is already busy with traffic from the middle and high schools. Brad Eckerle of Brosmer Land Surveying and Engineering of Jasper gave the presentation.
The designs show the future elementary school would be connected to West Ackerman Road to the north through two outlets. The new site would also feature a southeast exit that would connect to North Portersville Road and a driveway that would provide a route for on-campus driving between the current middle school and the new site. The campus’ main entrance is planned to line up with 41st Street at the Portersville Road intersection.
Eckerle explained the traffic pattern planned for the campus, saying that parent drop off would enter the campus from the main entrance, then split to either the elementary or middle school via the on campus connecting road. Buses would load and unload on the north side of the elementary school and south side of the middle school. That plan, Eckerle said, can accommodate up to 90 cars in the pick-up and drop-off queue.
“Our main thing when setting this layout was getting our cars off the public roadways,” he said.
The plan would change the current traffic flow at Jasper Middle. Eckerle said he hopes the school will implement the new pattern next school year, 2018-2019, so that it’s not as much of an adjustment when Jasper Elementary opens in 2020.
The school currently has officers posted at the middle and high schools during high traffic times, and Commissioner Dan Buck asked if the school would need additional police for traffic control. Eckerle said no. Superintendent Tracy Lorey said should they need more traffic control, school personnel can help as they already do at the high school.
“There’s a lot of options there if we need to,” she said.
Concerns about students who walk to school were also discussed. Commissioner Nick Brames said middle schoolers walking to school already pose a danger on Portersville Road. Brames said he’s seen students walking on both sides of the road, pushing cars toward the middle of the road. Lorey said that elementary-aged children would not be permitted to walk to school. She also pointed out that dismissal at an elementary school is much more controlled than at the middle or high school level. Teachers and staff escort elementary-aged students to their buses or cars, while older students are given more freedom.
The project will also include additional sidewalks in the area to make walking safer and layout paths for students to follow. City Engineer Chad Hurm said specific routes are being worked out.
Overall, the plan commission was happy with the plan.
“I think it’s a great start, I really do,” said Paul Lorey, commission president. He commended the corporation for using land it already owns, as well.
Before construction starts, the school’s final plans will go through concerned city departments, such as the planning and utilities department, for final approval. Construction on the roughly $30 million school is scheduled to begin in May.
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