Road construction in Jackson may affect commute to school

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Construction work along Highway 34/72 in Jackson may affect the commute time parents allocate for bringing their children to school next week, Jackson Junior High School principal Cory Crosnoe said.

Crosnoe said the junior high will help parents locate alternate routes to take to school, which starts Monday. But most parents are expected to find alternate routes without any help from the junior high, he said.

"Many people in Jackson have lived here their whole lives," Crosnoe said. "They'll have their own routes."

Construction along the highway will include expanding lane size and resurfacing existing lanes with asphalt. The construction process will begin Wednesday or Thursday, said Allen Friedrich, the senior construction inspector with MoDOT.

Asphalt resurfacing will be the first phase of construction, reducing eastbound traffic to one lane from the intersection of highways 34 and 72 to the junction with County Road 335, Friedrich said.

After the lanes are repaved, concrete will be poured on both sides of the road in order to expand the road, he said. Construction along the highway is not expected to be complete until at least the beginning of next year.

The road is one of the main thoroughfares parents travel to take their children to school, Crosnoe said. He said he expects it to be congested with traffic because it takes parents to four different schools: the junior high, Jackson Middle School, West Lane Elementary School and Orchard Elementary School. Crosnoe said at least 780 students attend the junior high, and about 35 percent of their parents take them to school by car.

He said officials at the school passed along information by word-of-mouth at back-to-school night the last time construction affected commute times to the junior high. If it gets bad enough this year, Crosnoe said, the junior high may send out an e-mail to parents detailing alternate routes.

Crosnoe said if parents have trouble finding their way and need more time to get to the school, officials will try to accommodate them. If parents want to bring their children to school early, he said the doors to the school would be open before 7 a.m. He said the administrators want to give parents time to adjust to the construction and will not likely penalize tardy students the first few days of school.

The traffic was handled well the last time road construction caused congestion, Crosnoe said. At the time, the school resource officer, Chris Green, came out to direct traffic.

He also suggested some students could take the bus or carpool to help alleviate problems.

Crosnoe said he expects parents to take alternate streets such as Oak Street or Independence Street to get to the school.

"It may not be a problem at all," he said about the construction. "But we should always expect the worst."

adohogne@semissourian.com

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