School traffic this morning causes headaches, but no migraine

August 12, 2003|HERB BROCK

You close the viaduct for construction. You strip Maple Avenue in preparation for a repaving job. You hold the first day of school. And, just for good measure, you start the one-hour pre-school traffic flow of hundreds of cars, trucks and buses heading to three schools - in a fog - and you end it with fire alarms.

What you have is a recipe for a major traffic migraine. But what happened at the Boyle County school complex this morning were a few minor traffic headaches.

"Given all the potential we had for a lot of problems, things really did not go so badly this morning," said Boyle County Director of Pupil Personnel Mike Pittman, standing at the board of education office building/Woodlawn Elementary entrance from the Danville bypass.

"The best thing you can say, with all that could have gone wrong, is that there were no accidents," said Danville police Capt. L.D. Roberts, who was standing with Pittman.


But Roberts and Pittman agreed that things could have gone more smoothly if fewer motorists had used the entrance at which they were standing.

"Vehicles were backed up a fourth-mile or more, all the way to 84 Lumber, waiting in line to turn left at this entrance," said Roberts. "With the fog and the fact that everybody was in a hurry to drop their kids off or to park themselves, it created a potentially dangerous situation."

Unless you're heading to Woodlawn, use Perryville Road entrance

To ease that "situation" for the next few weeks until the viaduct is reopened, Roberts and Pittman recommend that only people heading to Woodlawn use the Woodlawn entrance, while those heading to Boyle County High School and Boyle County Middle School go on to Perryville Road, turn left at the Perryville Road-bypass intersection and then turn left into the entrances to the high school and middle school.

Meanwhile, Chuck Stallard, director of pupil personnel for the Danville schools, said there were no traffic problems this morning in the city district.

"Everything went fine. We had all our students delivered to all five of our schools by 7:45 a.m.," said Stallard. "The only bus affected (by the viaduct closure) was the one we have in West Danville, and that bus, which delivers kids primarily to Toliver Elementary School but also to Danville High and Boyle Middle schools, experienced no problems."

The morning traffic flow to the Boyle complex, which starts about 7:30 a.m. and ends about 8:30 a.m., began in a thick fog and concluded with the arrival of Danville Fire Department trucks. "We could've done without the fog and the fire alarms," said Pittman.

As it turned out, the fog began to lift after 8 a.m. and the fire alarms were not the result of a real fire, according to Paul Elwyn, the Boyle district's director of communications.

"What triggered the alarm were our kitchen personnel at the high school starting up brand new ovens and the ventilation system not being properly adjusted," said Elwyn.

Motorists seem to take situation in stride

Meanwhile, motorists and bus drivers alike seemed to take the situation mostly in stride.

"It wasn't bad at all, coming here on Lebanon Road from our home in Parksville," said Danny Cross. "Also, we left home a little earlier than we might normally because of the traffic situation and because we had kids to drop off at two of the schools."

Cross and his wife, Patricia, parked their car in the major complex lot and then walked their 14-year-old child to the high school and their 12-year-old, two 10-year-olds and 5-year-old to Woodlawn. They have a 3-year-old who will begin a pre-school program in a few weeks.

"Of course, it won't be problem for us after today," said Danny Cross. "They'll be taking the bus."

Jana Webster, who dropped off a senior at the high school, said it took her 20 minutes to get to the complex, even though she and her daughter live in West Danville, at the other end of the viaduct.

"We had to take the long way around. We're so close but so far away," said Webster.

Bus driver Loren Cole, who transports students from areas north and west of Perryville, said he experienced no problems.

"Except for the fog, things went well," said Cole. "Of course, a lot of us bus drivers got off to an earlier start than usual because it's the first day of school and also in case we were going to face some problems caused by the viaduct being closed."

Sam Burke, a math teacher and basketball coach at the high school, said that from his vantage point as a parking lot monitor, it seemed like a fairly typical morning.

"Several students did appear to be arriving a little earlier than usual but, otherwise, this morning wasn't significantly different from a regular morning," said Burke.

Afternoon traffic is a concern

But Danville DPP Stallard said officials from neither school district should declare the day a success until they see how traffic flows when classes are let out this afternoon.

"The major concern for us, and I think also for the county, is this afternoon," Stallard said. "There will be a lot more traffic not only on the bypass but also on Fourth Street. A lot of people are leaving factory jobs and a lot of other people are just out, going to and from work and other places around 3 (p.m).

"It won't be just the school traffic that will be using the roads this afternoon."

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