Opening second entrance should ease traffic woes at school

Friday, September 13, 2002

Traffic moved steadily along the long asphalt drive at the new Cape Girardeau Central High School, as well as a second exit, as students headed home Thursday at the end of another school day.

While traffic congestion remains a problem in the mornings with only a single entrance to the school grounds in use, it's been addressed in the afternoons through the use of two exits.

Starting today, school officials hope to open newly paved Silver Springs Road in front of the school to incoming traffic in the morning in an effort to alleviate the traffic congestion on Mount Auburn Road and the connecting main driveway.

"When the road is open out here, we won't have a traffic problem," said assistant principal Mark Ruark as he helped direct traffic along the main driveway on Thursday afternoon.

Silver Springs Road has been used as a second exit route in the afternoons since late last week. It's also being used as the entrance for the school's 130 employees and the school buses.

But in the mornings, traffic backs up on Mount Auburn in both directions with drivers waiting to turn onto the main driveway. "It starts backing up about 7:15 a.m.," Ruark said.

School starts at 7:45 a.m. The congestion has led to traffic delays lasting 20 to 25 minutes, he said.

That's not the case at the end of the school day.

The parking lot emptied out within 15 minutes on Thursday. By 2:35 p.m., it was all over with about 500 student-driven cars having left the school grounds, along with a steady stream of cars driven by parents who picked up their children.

School officials say they don't want to empty the school grounds any faster. "You don't want a lot of teenage drivers getting out quicker than that," said Ruark as he directed traffic on the main drive exiting onto Mount Auburn Road.

Other motorists, many of them parents picking up their children, exited the campus and headed north toward Mount Auburn Road via a newly paved section of Silver Springs Road.

Traffic backed up for only a few minutes on the main drive as 19 school buses rolled out to take students home.

Even with the Silver Springs Road exit in use, most students still leave via the main driveway. "They are used to it that way," Ruark said.

While Silver Springs Road is paved up to the high school, construction work continues to extend the road to connect to South Kingshighway.

The $768,000 project, which began this summer, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, city officials said. But the paving project will only bring the road to within 130 feet of South Kingshighway, said Melanie Gertis, assitant city engineer.

The city plans to build an intersection and install traffic signals next year, providing another way to get to and from the high school. But that project isn't expected to begin until next spring. The work should be finished in time to open that end of Silver Springs Road by the start of school next fall, she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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