Meadowbrook Elementary traffic still jamming up
Published: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.
Bob Scurlock starts every school day extra early. It's part of his mission to beat the morning stampede on Northwest 39th Avenue west of Interstate 75.
At 7:15 on a recent morning, Scurlock, 35, was dropping off his daughter at Meadowbrook Elementary, happy to be there before rush-hour traffic clogged the street in front of the new school.
"It's not bad," he said, adding, "if one leaves early."
Since the school opened in August — putting even more vehicles on a road already jammed with traffic heading to nearby St. Francis Catholic High School and Countryside Christian School — traffic on Northwest 39th Avenue has raised concerns among motorists, parents and the Alachua County School Board.
During morning arrivals and afternoon dismissals at the schools, eastbound traffic often can back up to County Road 241, more than two miles away.
Keith Birkett, deputy superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, said in the past couple of months, traffic at the busy section "seems to have leveled off."
When the school opened, an Alachua County sheriff's deputy was assigned to help direct traffic in what was supposed to be a temporary measure. Months later, a deputy is still helping move vehicles through the congested area.
Casey Kumar is a paraprofessional at Meadowbrook who supervises students going into the school during early-morning drop-off. He said he traffic backs up almost daily.
"I do see it get backed up all the time," he said. "It's not really helpful for people coming from the west side."
Kumar noted that attendance in the morning is delayed for students going into class after the 7:45 a.m. bell.
"We thought it would be worked out as the year went on," he said. "But it has been pretty consistent."
Birkett said county engineers have been studying traffic patterns near the schools to determine if a traffic light at the intersection of Northwest 39th Avenue and Northwest 115th Terrace would help.
Cecil Quates, a 67-year-old Wellington Place resident who lives west of the elementary school, said a traffic light would help alleviate congestion.
"That would solve a lot of our problems," he said.
Plans for a traffic light might not come until Alachua County traffic engineers complete their study on the road.
Chris Zeigler, an Alachua County senior engineering technician, said engineers have monitored the traffic in that area for the past month.
Using traffic counters and field observations, Zeigler said the county soon would release its findings.
"We expect to have some final results in the next few weeks," he said.
Earlier in the school year, Zeigler said the county had received a number of complaints from residents and motorists about the traffic.
"But since then, we really haven't heard anything," he said.
Birkett noted that the congestion is not solely from the schools.
"It seems to vary depending on what's happening on the roads," he said.
Construction and car wrecks, he said, are among the other possible factors that cause Northwest 39th Avenue to be backed up.
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