Lane Ranger: Traffic at P.K. Yonge continues to frustrate

Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 9:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 9:25 p.m.

A change in the hours at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School has created morning and afternoon traffic problems that one reader described as a “madhouse” on Southwest 16th Avenue.

School now starts earlier than last year, which brings parents, students and staff to the campus during peak drive time. P.K. Yonge traffic turning off 16th Avenue onto 10th Terrace will back up traffic in both directions — filling the left turn lane eastbound and snarling the right westbound lane.

The westbound lane comes to a standstill when school lets out around 2 p.m. as parents begin queuing to pick up their children.

“The high school kids used to start at 8:40. They moved them to an 8:05 start time. As people were making that left-hand turn, it just backed up because of that westbound steady flow on 16th Avenue,” said University of Florida Police Capt. Jeff Holcomb. “One morning I was monitoring it and there were at least three Alachua County school buses … stopping to pick up at once.”

Holcomb said officials tried to alleviate the situation by opening a gate on campus that is normally closed, giving school traffic the option of an alternate route.

Gainesville police Officer Ben Tobias said the agency’s traffic unit will likely investigate the situation.

“I think its a pretty safe bet that we’re going to send our traffic unit out (this) week at school hours just to monitor it and figure out if there is anything we can do … to make that a little safer,” Tobias said. “It’s going to take a coordinated response.”

Phil Mann, Gainesville’s assistant public works director, said in an email that various agencies have been working together to address the issues. Mann added the city is working with the school on traffic concerns that will crop up next year with the reconstruction of Depot Avenue near campus.

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