Crossing guard Beth Bagley stops traffic during the after school rush on the Strawberry Park campus Thursday afternoon. School district officials have hired consultants to evaluate traffic flow and parking for the area, which is shared by the elementary and middle schools.

Photo by John F. Russell

Crossing guard Beth Bagley stops traffic during the after school rush on the Strawberry Park campus Thursday afternoon. School district officials have hired consultants to evaluate traffic flow and parking for the area, which is shared by the elementary and middle schools.

Traffic woes continue at Strawberry Park

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— Strawberry Park Elementary School officials implemented a new traffic plan for the campus's perpetually congested parking lot in September, but abandoned the plan Wednesday due to concerns from parents and bus drivers.

"I think the plan absolutely helped, but with winter approaching, we didn't think it would be in the best interests of anyone to continue it," said Rick Denney, director of facilities for the Steamboat Springs School District.

To help ease congestion that often stops traffic on the school's entrance and exit roads to Amethyst Drive, roads shared with Steamboat Springs Middle School, the September plan divided the one-way entrance road into three lanes for vehicles descending toward the parking lot.

Lanes designated by student grade levels currently direct parents to pick-up areas, but school bus drivers such as Bethany Aurin have told the Steamboat Springs School Board that the lanes are too narrow and a new traffic plan needs to be created.

"We are coming down that hill and with all that is going on, with the three lanes and people walking in front of us, something tragic is bound to happen," Aurin told the School Board in October.

With snow and winter conditions on the horizon, the district's director of transportation, Ed Dingledine, said it will be prudent to shut down the third lane to allow more room for school buses.

"It's a squeeze as we have it in there now," he said. "The big concern is that during icy weather, that the buses move in that lane with ease. We don't want them to damage cars, and with people walking around, the safety of the parents and students in that area is essential."

No phone zone

Denney, Dingledine and Strawberry Park Principal Brenda Barr said a new set of eyes is needed to study the problem.

"We've moved to hire a professional traffic consultant to develop something we currently don't have," Denney told the School Board on Monday. The district is negotiating a contract with traffic consultants Stolfus & Associates of Greenwood Village. District officials declined to give an estimated cost of the consulting until the contract is finalized.

"The purpose is to get any professional ideas to make sure traffic flows work," Barr said. "The safety of the children always comes first."

School Board member John DeVincentis said Monday that one of his biggest concerns as principal at Strawberry Park was that children routinely walk past vehicles to get into the school.

"Unless we can get those kids safely into the school, then I don't think any plan is good," he said. "I would suggest looking at an underpass or overpass. I've seen buses come down that hill sideways in the snow. My concern was always watching those kids coming across that intersection - even with crossing guards."

Denney said the consultants will provide a set of long-term and short-term proposals for the School Board to approve in the spring.

"It's never going to be a perfect situation," he said. A new plan "may be similar to what we have already or a radical change on what is going on out there."

As school officials wait for the consultant's recommendations, Barr advised parents to carpool, utilize the district's school bus system and use caution when dropping off or picking up students.

"It's a tight area with a lot of small children walking around," she said.

"Retain close attention, and please don't be using your cell phone."

Comments

another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

The most important thing to keep the traffic flow smooth and spread out over time is to keep the drop off time for the elementary school and the middle school about 10-20 minutes apart. That way you do not need three separate lanes. The plan they put in place at the beggining of the year did not work well. It took three times as long to get through the drop off process which means there were three times as many cars in the lot. It is a good thing they quit doing it. Things are much smoother now.

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raver 6 years, 5 months ago

we sure do spend alot of money on consultants.Didn't a consultant come up with this plan several years ago? Maybe all the consultants could consult with one another.

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agentofchange 6 years, 5 months ago

Right on Raver! This is not rocket science. Put a group together and watch the traffic for a week. Take the results, make a plan. Take the $$ that you would have used on the plan, and give the staff a Xmas bonus! I know too simple, after all these folks are in charge of education. My, My.

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agentofchange 6 years, 5 months ago

Right on Raver! This is not rocket science. Put a group together and watch the traffic for a week. Take the results, make a plan. Take the $$ that you would have used on the study, and give the staff a Xmas bonus! I know too simple, after all these folks are in charge of education. My, My.

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bikegirl 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the district should hire a professional negotiation committee to discuss the negotiations between the district and the consultants,or maybe we need contract consultants to consult on the contract!Will district officials be officiating these meetings!

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

Hey Bikegirl, Before that negotiation committee can meet to discuss the negotiations regarding consultants there is something we need that you forgot: A study!

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bikegirl 6 years, 5 months ago

Right al !-Do we need a study board to conduct the study,or a conduct committe to study the conduct of the board?

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letomayo 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe Robin Crossan the new board president should nicks the study and the consultants. She and the board can have the facilities person and maybe the pricipals study it and make a recommendaton. Don't they get paid alot all ready?

Then the school board can vote on a new plan. If parents coming from Strawberry Park could drop there children at the top along the west side of the road, they could walk down the hill. The maintanence people could rope off a trail to use each day. That would keep some cars out of the lot.

I want the new board to take over and fix that mess without spending money on studies and consultants.

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Bog 6 years, 5 months ago

I am sick and tired of hiring consultants for every decision in this town. Visit other districts, talk with other schools and implement a solution.

To prevent kids from having to walk in front of traffic, all drop-off has to be along the sidewalk in front of each school, which is very long and could probably handle 20 cars at a time. Eliminate island in the middle and make the left lane for parking, right for drop-off, the opposite of what it is right now.

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letomayo 6 years, 5 months ago

Bog, I would like to hire a consultant to discuss the plan you just laid out before us.

We're going to have green schools with brown clouds hanging over the parking lots.

If any of you who have wagged their tongues about green schools are still driving your kids and dropping them off, you need to stop driving immediately and let your kids ride the bus.

You can also drop them off at the top of butcherknife on Maple and let them walk through the green Butcher Knife Canyon, even in the wiinter. They'll burn off more calories in the cold air and that we help them avoid childhood obesity now that the $34M rec center went down the tubes (I'm talking about the Old Town Hot Springs tubes, eh, eh,).

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

I have been dropping off kids there for years. How about we just do it the way we have been? Honestly, I don't see the problem.

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bikegirl 6 years, 5 months ago

al-you are right,I dropped off three kids there for years,what we really need is for parents to use common sense,turn off their cell phones,and pay attention.

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mom 6 years, 5 months ago

The size of the parking lot is much smaller due to the construction and student enrolment is up this year compared to previous years. Once additional classrooms are added it seems the numbers will continue to go up. The issue will not go away on its own. There needs to be a change for now concerning safety and congestion as well as continued growth. I also agree cell phones should be turned off and students should ride the bus or carpool.

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