Third day of school for the 2009-10 school year…and once again Lysette “needed” a ride to school. Oh, how lucky she has it…when I was in high school, I walked 0.5 miles to the bus, rain or shine, cold or hot, and it didn’t matter if I had 50# of books in a passed-down bookbag. Before I go off on this tangent, back to the reason I am blogging on this topic.
I left the casa at 0640 and arrived at Eastwood Drive at 0657. I was headed North, turning West onto Eastwood. The whole road was backed up..and I eventually found the cause – no left turn lane into the high school student lot…but more on why this is an issue in a moment. We fought our way through traffic and eventually ended up at the school entrance. At this point, a UHS employee was “directing” traffic, and I use that term loosely, to use the drop-off loop. Fine. But here is the part that baffled me…
After you drop off the student, which is already done in reverse of what would be logical, I would normally exit the loop and go North on Cougar Lane to Lokanotosa Trail, where I would turn West again and then North on Alafaya, taking me directly to my workplace. But no. The weenies at UHS have decided to put up a roadblock at Cougar lake…so what they have effectively done is created the world’s biggest chokepoint.
Now back to why that student lot is an issue. You ahve a steady stream of parents exiting the school, headed West on Eastwood to get back to Rouse, the only way out of this Zoo. The steady stream of cars effectively eliminates the possibility of any of the Eastbound students turning left into the student parking lot! So you end up with gridlock. To make matters worse, you have another residential road serving as an unofficial entrance into the school….Rouse Lake Road. So you have all these people coming in from East Colonial, and you have all the people coming in and out of the school along Eastwood…it is not a pretty sight.
Here is a pic to make things more clear. The yellow arrows represent the route coming into and out of the school. Note the roadblock along Cougar Lane. Note the circled choke point, where students cannot turn left due to a steady stream of swift traffic. Also note the bottleneck at Eastwood & Rouse, which is also under construction!
Did I mention the school buses? Oh yeah, they are coming in on Lokanotosa and dropping students off at that loop just West of the roadblock…soyou have very few buses using Lokanotosa and very many cars and students on foot choking up Eastwood. Once again, we have a disaster of planning, provided to you by the OCPS School Board clowns and administrators of UHS.
Is there a better way? Yes, there is. Remove the road block. Pave in a relatively long turn lane on Eastwood to help alleviate the chokepoint. There is plenty of right-of-way to do it, and the area is already under construction. Then you would have people entering Eastwood, going East to drop off the kids. Have them enter in such a way that they are always going North-Northeast. How? Make the loop one-way and have the cars enter from Eastwood and exit onto Cougar. Then have everyone exit on Lokanotosa. The buses? They can still enter on Lokanotosa and exit there, or pave a one-way section of road connecting Cougar to Eastwood and have the buses exit down Rouse Lake. Essentially, make the drop off one-way such that the flow never stops or has to turn around. This would alleviate at least 60-70% of the bottlenecks and chokepoints at relatively no cost and effort, and you can also fire that traffic coordinator that is standing there waving her hands around, making things worse. And people wonder how the School Board can have a 2 Billion Dollar (with a “B”) shortfall in funding.
Update 8/27/09: Someone pointed out to me that the roadblock is in place because the bus drops off the kids at the main campus, and the freshman have to walk across Cougar to get to their Freshman Campus. If the road were opened, kids would be run over. And I have to agree with that based on the drivers I have seen in the area. How to solve? No inexpensive way. Either you need a pedestrian over/underpass from the bus dropoff to Freshman Campus or there needs to be a redesign. Extend Eastwood Drive and pave a road behind the Freshman Campus parallel to Hampton Circle and have it connect up with Cougar Lane near the UHS Pond. So you would then come up Eastwood and drop the kid off at the Main Campus dropoff loop…then you loop back around onto Cougar Lane, then onto the new road behind Freshman Campus…where you would exit out onto Lokonotosa. The segment between the bus dropoff zone and the car dropoff loop could be “student only” and no traffic allowed.