The final plans for the project, with an estimated cost of $750,000, were presented by the Missouri Department of Transportation at a public forum in the school library. The proposal, which includes a widened road to provide turn lanes, a traffic signal to ease entry and exit from the school and a redesigned parking area, is expected to be under contract by March with a completion date by the time school begins again in August, said Andy Meyer, MoDOT project manager.
"Everyone has a stake in seeing that this works," Meyer said.
The construction funding is expected to come in the form of an earmarked appropriation sought by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
The plan is a comprehensive solution to a problem that has been growing for several years, Mayor Barbara Lohr said. The posting of police officers at the school entrance to direct traffic has only partially alleviated the traffic problems, she said.
"We have been looking at all kind of Band-Aid fixes, but this will be a total fix for the area," she said.
Traffic flow breaks down three times each day, Meyer said. The school district has attempted to stagger times when parents arrive to pick up and receive their children and when buses must enter or leave school grounds, but that hasn't helped much, he
"Traffic comes to a complete standstill for a half-hour in the morning and a half-hour in the evening," Meyer said. "It completely falls apart."
The stalled traffic presents two safety issues, he said. Poor sight lines along the hilly road mean a motorist can come up quickly on a stopped car with little warning as a car comes over a crest. And with preschool programs housed at New McKendree United Methodist Church, the new crosswalks and traffic signals will make it easier for parents, children and school staff to cross the highway.
Other improvements will be a widened entrance, allowing left and right turn exiting, and dual pickup and dropoff lanes to speed cars through.
"It looks like it will be a win-win for everybody," said Dr. Ron Anderson, superintendent of the Jackson School District. "It is a way to handle the traffic both on the highway and on-site."
If Emerson is unable to secure funding, the district, the city and MoDOT have each committed $250,000 to pay for construction.
1701 S. Hope St., Jackson, Mo.