New traffic pattern kicks off year at JMS

Traffic pattern map

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — When school resumes next week, drivers and students at Jasper Middle School will have a new traffic pattern to get accustomed to for student pickup and drop-off.

The new pattern moves bus pickup and drop-off to the school’s south side — where the circle drive is — and car rider pickup and drop-off to the north parking lot, closest to what will be Jasper Elementary School. For parents and guardians picking up and dropping off students, the plan is to have the only entrance be the north entrance of the north parking lot. From there, cars will wrap around the perimeter of the parking lot before loading and unloading students along the school’s north side. From there, cars will exit through the south entrance of the north lot. Drivers will still be able to park in the north lot if they need to come into the school for any reason.

The change is in preparation for the opening of Jasper Elementary School beginning with the 2020-21 school year, as both schools will be on the same campus and connected by a connector drive. That drive will serve as a throughway for parents with students at both buildings.

For the most part, the new traffic pattern is planned to have two lanes for cars, which allows the school to get more cars off public streets and onto school property during pickup and drop-off times. But it also means that as drivers approach the single pickup and drop-off lane — which is marked with blue paint — along the school, they will have to merge.

Driving the route in a golf cart two weeks before the first day of school, David Hubster, the school’s principal, stopped at the point where drivers will have to merge.

“Here’s where they’re going to have to be nice to each other,” he said of the drivers.

The pattern also includes a four-way stop at the point where the connector street between the middle school and Jasper Elementary enters the parking lot. That’s another point where drivers will have to be conscientious, Hubster said.

On the school’s south side, bus drivers will have to get used to loading and unloading at a different end of the school. In preparation for that change, the school paved a portion of the grass that used to be on that end of the building to give the buses somewhere to park.

“We did lose a lot of green space,” Hubster said.

But it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make, as the resulting parking lot will allow the buses to line up similarly to how they did in the north parking lot.

For the 2019-20 school year, all of the corporation’s roughly 17 bus routes will begin at the middle school, which will make for a packed parking lot on the school’s south side. That will change with the 2020-21 school year, Hubster said. Once Jasper Elementary opens, administrators plan to change the bus routes to have some buses starting at each of the corporation’s schools.

As the changes occur, Hubster is asking all drivers to be patient and give themselves time to get used to the new system. He’s also asking drivers not to try to take shortcuts. The pattern will only work the way it’s intended if everyone uses is properly, he said.

“It’s just like with anything new,” Hubster said. “[People] have to have some patience and be considerate of others, and it’ll work.”




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