21 Aug 2014
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FH Finding Fixes for School Traffic Woes

Long- and short-term solutions for Sickles safety issues interwoven with Fair Haven's Willow Street road project

FH Finding Fixes for School Traffic Woes FH Finding Fixes for School Traffic Woes FH Finding Fixes for School Traffic Woes

Traffic. It’s a problem of ever-increasing concern in Fair Haven, especially during school drop-off and pick-up times, and especially lately at the Voila L. Sickles School.

There has been extra vigilance by police. There have been warnings. There have been pleas.

Yet, careless drivers continue to drive carelessly. Speeders continue to speed. Cars and SUVs continue to clog up school-front roads, parents competing for the premier place to park and usher kids in and out.

And, in the middle of all if this clutter and calamity is a segment of the student population walking and biking to school. The result: imminent pedestrian and cyclist safety issues.

So, officials were driven to put the pedal to the metal in coming up with short- and long-term plans that incorporate altered current road improvement plans with safety schematics.

Borough Engineer Rich Gardella, Administrator Theresa Casagrande, Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge and school administrators have been working together for the past few weeks to formulate a plan of action, Casagrande said at Tuesday night’s Borough Council meeting.

That plan, as she announced, saying it was “well-received from school administration,” is as follows:

Short-term action:

• Explain and redefine vehicle drop-off and no parking areas in front of Sickles School;

• Redesign crosswalk patterns on the corner of Willow Street and Fair Haven Road;

• Widen the one remaining crosswalk on Fair Haven Road;

• Mandate that bike riders are to dismount bikes and walk them when on Willow Street

• Temporarily close of McCarter Park gate to help redirect bikes to school;

• Paint roads and curbs and update signage in accordance with the aforementioned revised plans, including updating signage;

• Monitor traffic patterns and crossing guard personnel (Fair Haven police).

Post-school short-term actions:

• Relocate bike racks from McCarter Park to the front of Sickles School;

• Assign school staff members and/or parent volunteers to expedite student drop-off and pick up;

• Dismiss bike riders earlier than walkers or students being picked up;

• Increase parking availability to staff by allowing them to use the resulting empty lot for temporary parking.

Long-term plans:

• Fair Haven Police Department will conduct traffic studies on Willow Street and Fair Haven Road;

• The borough engineer will design the Willow Street road improvement project with input from school administration and police;

• Borough officials and the Board of Education will review the possibility of expanding the scope of the existing Willow Street road project to include possible alternate drop-off and parking scenarios and cost-sharing options, considering the original state Department of Transportation grant to revamp the road.

“The bulk of the short-term task will be completed on Nov.  8 and 9 during the teachers’ convention (when there is no school),” Casagrande concluded.

Will the plans work? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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