No turning left from Boyle campus for 30 minutes each morning

September 12, 2003|GARY MOYERS

Parents who drop their children off at schools on the Boyle County main campus on Perryville Road will soon lose the option to turn left when exiting the lot.

After several days of traffic tie-ups and parental complaints, the school system, at the urging of the Danville Police Department, plans to bar left turns from the lot between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. The change will take affect Sept. 22.

"I have never seen traffic at our campus as bad as it has been since the viaduct reopened," said Boyle Director of Transportation Services Mike Pittman. "We had one bad day, the first day of school, when the viaduct was closed, then things got a lot better as people found alternate routes. But since the viaduct reopened, it has been the worst I've seen in my 15 years with the system."

Jay Newell, assistant chief, said police have been monitoring the traffic since school began.


"We've met with school officials to come up with a solution to the problem, and the one constant we see in all the scenarios is the people making a left turn from the lot onto Perryville Road," he said. "That backs up traffic in the lot itself, which causes backups on Perryville Road of the people trying to turn into the lot.

Newell said his department has fielded numerous complaints about the situation, and Pittman said he receives several calls each day.

"People are frustrated," said Newell. "It's a situation that, we believe, won't get better on its own."

Directing traffic is no longer enough

Newell said police have directed traffic at the campus in years past, but each year the traffic problems have worsened. Now, he said, simply directing traffic will not solve the problem.

"We examined several options, including using an officer or officers to direct the traffic flow, but it came down to an issue of convenience versus public safety," said Newell. "Public safety has to win that one every time. The school system is making this change based on our recommendation."

Newell said he believes directing traffic at the campus exit leads to dangerous congestion at the intersection of Perryville Road and the U.S. 150 bypass.

"When an officer stops the traffic on Perryville Road to allow drivers to turn left from the lot, it backs up the traffic on Perryville Road itself, and quickly becomes a problem at that intersection," he said. "You get cars trapped in the intersection, sometimes blocking both lanes of the bypass, plus you get a big backup on the other side of Perryville Road. That becomes a public safety issue, because vehicles, including big trucks, are traveling on the bypass and suddenly run up on vehicles that are stopped to turn onto Perryville Road heading into Danville. We are very, very concerned that a major accident could happen under those circumstances."

Pittman said the school system has examined rerouting the traffic on the campus itself, but there are limited options and most would exacerbate the problem.

"Our architect (Tim Lucas) tells us we're one of the few campuses he knows of that has a traffic flow inside the location of the buildings, rather than outside," said Pittman. "It's a problem we hope to address down the road if finances permit, but we have no options available right now."

Fairgrounds entrance explored

Pittman said the district explored using the entrance to the Boyle County Fairgrounds as an egress point, but the cost of building a connection is too great.

Pittman said the district is having signs printed advising motorists about the left turn prohibition.

"We plan to use the time between now and Sept. 22 to print the signs and try to get the word out to all the drivers," he said. "Hopefully, this gives drivers a chance to explore alternate routes and come up with the ones that work best for them."

The left turn ban does not affect afternoon traffic, Pittman said.

"By far, it's much worse in the morning, because the school traffic is mixed with people driving to work on Perryville Road," he said. "We haven't had near the problems in the afternoons."

Newell said after the left turn ban begins, police will continue to monitor the traffic flow.

"We hope this solution eases the problem, but we plan to closely watch the situation and see its effects," he said. "If, after a period of time, we determine this isn't working, we'll examine other options."

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