With an eye on improving pedestrian safety at two township schools, the South Brunswick School District announced new traffic patterns for the drop off and pickup of students at South Brunswick High School and Crossroads North Middle School.
The district worked with traffic engineers and the South Brunswick Police Department to address numerous concerns raised last school year. The new patterns present dramatic changes from the process last year, but district officials are hopeful the new plan will improve safety for students and parents.
Safety concerns at SBHS were brought to the forefront following
"Our issues were in the morning for a.m. drop-off," said Interim SBHS Principal Peter Varela at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. "We noticed more people were coming to the front of the building."
In light of the hit and run accident last year, Varela presented a plan that involved the creation of three lanes of traffic in front of the main SBHS entrance. From the entrance on Stouts Lane, there will be two lanes of traffic headed west, with the lane closest to the school for dropping off students and a lane next to it for thru-traffic. Both lanes will merge as they approach the end of the lot and then exit on Ridge Road.
For those coming in from the Ridge Road entrance, drivers must go straight or turn left and head east into the existing parking lot in front of the entrance of the school, separated from the two new westbound lanes by the sidewalk. Coming out of that parking lot at the side closest to Stouts Lane will be right hand turn only.
There will now be one main crosswalk for students to use near the main entrance of the school to eliminate pedestrians crossing at various points. The sidewalk for the eastbound drop-off of students is now designated as a safe zone. The school has also eliminated curbside parking in front of the school.
Small buses will now drop students off near the entrance to the gym on the side of the school.
In addition, speed bumps and traffic cones will also be employed to improve safety, as well as additional signage.
"This creates a safer environment for pedestrians and a better traffic flow," Varela said.
Crossroads North Principal Mark Daniels presented the new traffic pattern for the middle school, which presents a drastic change from what motorists are accustomed to. There are now two separate entrances for cars and buses during mornings and afternoons to prevent students from being dropped off and walking in the busing area. The plan is also expected to alleviate congestion issues from cars and buses using the same exit.
"When parents and buses were using the same exit it created a bottleneck scenario," Daniels said.
The former exit from the school on Georges Road closest to Pierre's Restaurant and Deli is now an entrance and exit for cars only. Students must now be dropped off at the rear of the school.
Cars will then cycle around the back and return to that entrance, which has been widened into three lanes to allow for both left and right hand turns out onto Georges Road.
The entrance to the school off of Georges Road furthest from Pierre's is now for buses only. After dropping off students, buses will loop around through the front parking lot, and back out on to Georges Road. Cars and buses will both enter and exit from the two separate locations. Speed bumps will also be placed at the rear of the school at the student drop-off location.
Daniels said the staff will monitor the new patters for the school year and assess its effectiveness to determine if further action is needed.
There is expected to be the requisite growing pains as drivers become accustomed to the new patterns at both schools, so staff will be on hand to help direct traffic.
"We want to make sure parents understand that this is not being done to inconvenience them, it's being done for student safety," said Board of Education President Stephen Parker.
Both new schools' new traffic patterns are to be posted on the district web site within the next few days and will be presented on the Viking Television Network.
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