School's traffic pattern to keep cars off streetSeptember 6, 2018
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER— When conversations turn to the new Jasper Elementary School, the question on a lot of people’s minds is traffic.
The good news: school officials and engineers have an answer.
When Jasper Elementary opens on the north side of the city next to the middle school in the fall of 2020, students who currently attend Fifth Street and Tenth Street schools will move to the new building. The change will bring more traffic to the area in the mornings before school and in the afternoons when school lets out, but engineers have designed traffic patterns to keep queueing cars off public streets.
The first change will be at the middle school. Beginning next year, parent pick-up and drop-off will happen on the school’s north side. Currently, parents pick up their students on the south side of the school, occasionally having to wait on Portersville Road for cars in front of them to move through the line. The new configuration will get waiting cars off city streets onto school property, which was a priority for school officials and engineers on the project.
“That’s why we went to revising that pick-up at the middle school,” said Brad Eckerle, an engineer with Brosmer Land Surveying and Engineering in Jasper.
Eckerle designed the new traffic patterns for the middle school and Jasper Elementary.
View diagrams of the traffic patterns here:
At its meeting last week, the Greater Jasper School Board approved Clerk of the Works Scott Stenftenagel to seek proposals for work on the north parking lot at the middle school that will set it up for the new traffic patterns. That work will take place this fall, and parents at the middle school will use the new traffic configuration in the 2019-20 school year, giving them time to adjust to the new configuration before Jasper Elementary opens the following year.
Eckerle said he is confident the new configuration will get waiting cars off Portersville Road. The engineering team counted 68 queueing cars at peak traffic time, Eckerle said. The configuration on the middle school’s north side is estimated to hold 98 cars on school property.
At the elementary school, parents will queue on the east side of the school, off Portersville Road. That line is estimated to hold 85 cars on school property. There will also be a connector road on school property connecting the two campuses so that parents with students at both schools don’t have to re-enter public streets to move between the schools.
The project also called for widening Ackerman Road to prepare for the buses at Jasper Elementary, which will access the campus via Ackerman Road. That work is happening now. The City of Jasper also plans to reconstruct and widen Portersville Road between Ackerman and 47th Street in 2019, according to City Engineer Chad Hurm. That project includes adding a pedestrian path on the road’s west side.
As for sidewalks around the school grounds, Superintendent Tracy Lorey said there will be sidewalks throughout the school’s property for use by middle school students who walk to and from school. For safety reasons, no elementary school students will be allowed to walk, Lorey said.
Even with the traffic plans, both Eckerle and Lorey said there will be busy traffic times when school begins and ends. They asked people in the area to follow the rules of the road and be patient.
“All schools (in the state) at 2:45 p.m. to 3:10 or 3:15 p.m. are going to have traffic,” Lorey said. “It’s going to be very important to be patient. After 10 to 15 minutes, it should be passed.”
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