School grapples with traffic

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Cami Brix

Traffic mounts outside the front entrance after school on a Wednesday afternoon. Students socialize, waiting for their rides to get through the long queue. As a part of his daily routine, Ric Calhoun directs traffic. “I try to go out there to get groups of cars to go out at a time instead of going one car at a time,” Calhoun said.

Cami Brix, News Editor

As a result of district changes this year, school traffic is worse than in years past, traffic and parking supervisor Ric Calhoun said. The addition of the freshman class, many of whom are being driven by their parents, and the 25-minute push back to the school’s start time during commute hour both contribute to additional backup. Calhoun and the school administration are working to solve the traffic problem and address public complaints.  

“The school was never built to have as many students and cars coming in and out as it does [now],”  Calhoun said.

With only two school entrances and one of those entrances going through a neighborhood,  Calhoun said school traffic has always been difficult to manage. Junior Olivia Robinson said  she has also found congestion to be worse this year and tries to get to school 40 minutes before the bell rings.

Junior Tom Mikolyuk, a waiver student who drives 6 miles to campus, estimates that he waits eight minutes to make the left turn onto NE 157th in the morning and 12 minutes to get out of the school parking lot after sixth period.

“For an IB student who just wants to get  home [and] who has other things to do, it is a lot,” Mikolyuk said.

To address these issues, Calhoun and principal Vicki Sherwood have met multiple times with the district and a city engineer. The best and most long-term solutions are not financially feasible for the district right now Calhoun said. However, if the Capital Projects Bond is passed in February, there will be enough money to  implement the changes.

In the meantime, many short-term efforts have been made. Last year, the school administration moved the parent drop-off line from the main entrance to the longer front parking lot. This year, Calhoun goes out every afternoon to direct traffic. Additionally, the City of Kenmore helped by lengthening the traffic light changes during the end of school.

“It sounds terrible, but with the money and the resources that we have, we’ve kind of done all we can do,” Calhoun said. “Now, it becomes something that if we can get the students to kinda help out—that might make it a little bit better.”