City: Make changes on King’s Fork

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, February 4, 2012

After conducting a traffic study in the area of two schools, the Public Works department has recommended some changes to safety practices on King’s Fork Road.

Suffolk Public Schools should look into constructing a new driveway for exit from King’s Fork Middle School and investigate the feasibility of having a uniformed person at the entrance to the middle school to encourage drivers to obey the existing signs, the department recommended.

City Council voted in November to conduct the study after several people expressed concerns about the traffic on King’s Fork Road during school arrival and dismissal times. The road features a middle school and high school directly across from each other.

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Parent LeeAnn Reeder lobbied for the study, telling City Council and School Board members during public comment sessions at their meetings that she had witnessed several near-miss accidents, motorists speeding and disobeying other traffic signs, and other worrisome traffic behavior.

The study found that the volume of traffic at the intersection still does not meet guidelines for a traffic light. But Reeder said she is pleased with the recommendations.

“By and large, I feel like my efforts and the efforts of others have paid off,” she said. “I do feel like my concerns were heard and were acted upon.”

Reeder said she is glad to see the recommendation that the schools place a uniformed person at the intersection to encourage people to obey the “No left turn” signs placed at the middle school exit.

“If we have two crossing guards, I think that would be a fairly cost-effective way to solve the problem,” she said.

The study also recommended that the schools should continue to educate drivers associated with the schools of the required traffic patterns and that the city should maintain the 25 miles-per-hour school zone speed limit and continue monitoring the conditions for significant changes.

If the recommendations are implemented, it won’t be the first time changes have been made to address concerns, according to the study. Two years ago, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Alston adjusted the schedules of the two schools to result in a five-minute difference in their start and end times. The change appeared to address the congestion issue.

However, later that year, Public Works again began receiving calls about traffic being delayed in making left turns onto King’s Fork Road from the middle school. It was resulting in traffic backing up into the student drop-off area, so that’s when the “No left turns” signs were posted. The restriction is only in place from 7 to 8 a.m. on school days.

However, the signs were disobeyed by about 30 percent of vehicles except for when a uniformed officer was present at the intersection, the study noted.

The speed limit also was previously lowered to 25 mph from 35 mph.

Reeder said she is meeting with school officials this week to see if they plan to act on the recommendations.

“I’m really pleased with the outcome,” Reeder said, referencing other concerned parents and school employees referred to in the study. “It was nice to know I really wasn’t the only one out there complaining about it.”