Parents express concerns with school traffic
by Carin Kirkegaard
For children not riding a school bus, arriving at Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) School can be a maze of walkers, skateboards, scooters, walkers, dogs and vehicles. At times, navigating this maze can be perilous according to some BRE parents.
“Parents park their vehicles on sidewalks and in cross walks, execute U-turns in the middle of the street and drive too fast,” said Chad Sanders, concerned BRE parent. “With the kids getting picked up and dropped off from vehicles using the same exit of the school as the kids walking, there are a lot of kids coming and going and a lot of vehicles doing the same – it could be a disaster if drivers don’t slow down and use common sense,” continued Sanders.
BRE students arrive and are dismissed from primarily two doors. Students that utilize the Douglas County School District busing service arrive and dismiss from the door facing Campden Place (see map this page.) Students that walk or receive a ride use the door located at Shoreham Drive. The main door at BRE is used only when a child is arriving late or is being picked up early from the school.
According to Ally Berggren, BRE principal, the school recognizes the congestion along Shoreham Drive. In answer to this concern, the school has been in communication with the parents by sending home maps of the school that outline traffic patterns. The maps are used to educate parents that drive their children on how to better maneuver around the school. In addition the school’s assistant principal Russ Jensen, mans the drop off line encouraging parents to pull up, drop their kids, and move along.
Berggren is aware of how other neighborhood schools use a car pool line for pick up and drop off, and commented that the layout of the school in relation to the parking lot and surrounding streets is prohibitive of creating a car pool pick up/drop off system at BRE. However, Berggren does hope to create a car pool pick up/drop off system that will work for BRE by fall of 2009.
City and County Response
Working on the safety concerns surrounding BRE has been an ongoing process both with Douglas County, prior to the City of Castle Pines North (CPN) taking over operations on February 12, and now with the city.
Both entities expressed the need for continued education among parents as well as having increased enforcement from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) during high traffic times around the school.
According to Lieutenant Troy McCarty of the DCSO, the Sheriff’s Office has, and will continue to conduct periodic enforcement in this area prior to and during peak pedestrian use. “We strive for voluntary compliance and urge parents and the motoring public to use extreme caution when driving through this or any other school zone.”
Amy Branstetter from Douglas County Public Works (DCPW), said that in addition to continued education, DCPW did propose recommendations for signage changes that the County felt would help with safety concerns surrounding the school to the CCPN.
DCPW recommended that the school speed zone surrounding the school be consolidated to only include areas where a child would be unexpectedly crossing a roadway rather than all along the roadway where a child walks. In addition to consolidating the school speed zone area, it was also recommended to drop the speed limit down to 15 miles per hour.
It was also recommended that “No U-turn” signs be installed on the streets surrounding the schools. Branstetter said, this would not only be a reminder to parents, but would also help the DCSO with enforcement.
Eric Guth, the director of public works for the CCPN, met with Sanders after school dismissal to see first hand the flow of traffic. According to Guth, the city doesn’t feel the county recommendations need to be implemented at this time. “Currently, the area is signed for a school zone and I’m not sure a U-turn sign would make a difference,” he said.
The city has alerted the CPN Safety Task Force, a volunteer group of citizens who advise on and research safety-related issues about this issue. The task force meets the second Wednesday of each month. To learn more visit the website at: www.cpngov.com/safety.