Changes to student lot planned

March 9, 2007, midnight | By Kathy Jee | 13 years, 6 months ago

Under a new plan designed to relieve congestion and increase safety in the student parking lot, parents will be able to drop students off in a designated area on the University Boulevard side, according to Business Manager James Funk.

Funk is developing the new drop-off procedure to accommodate parents who want to let students off on the University Boulevard side instead of the Colesville Road parking lot. Although not yet finalized, the plan currently designates the new site at the end of the student parking lot, near the University Boulevard entrance. "The drivers enter from University Boulevard, drive halfway down and turn on the lane that's currently one-way," said Sam Stokes, co-chairman of the PTSA's pedestrian safety committee, whom Funk consulted while developing the plan. The parking spaces that are located in the drop-off area will be moved to the visitor spots.

According to Stokes, the new route will create a shorter circuit for parents, who will be able to exit the parking lot faster, and should decrease traffic between the drop-off site and the student parking spaces. "We think everyone will benefit from this plan," he said.

Senior Cal Burton, who drives to school every day, blames parents for the current congestion in the parking lot. "There's increased traffic due to parents stopping to drop off," he said. "At around 7:15, it gets really backed up, and by 7:20, you're automatically going to be late to class."

Instead of having parents drive to a designated area, senior Ben Meyer suggested that time intervals be instituted during which parents can enter the lot. "They should have set times for parents to come, like from 7:00 to 7:10, since students usually come after then," he said.

By implementing an official drop-off site on the University side, Funk believes the traffic build-up, consisting of student drivers, buses and parents in the morning, will improve. "It will definitely relieve traffic so people can get in and out more quickly," he said. Funk specifically devised the plan so that it will have a "minimum impact on the whole lot."

The PTSA became involved with the effort in response to concerns that parents were dropping off students right along University Boulevard. "We thought it created unsafe conditions on University Boulevard, where there is high-speed traffic," Stokes said.

The PTSA also thought the absence of an official site on University Boulevard inconvenienced parents unnecessarily. "It wasn't a good option for parents approaching University Boulevard to have to drive all the way down and around Colesville," Stokes said.

Last year, Funk and the PTSA designed a plan to allow parents to drop off students in a partitioned area of the bus lanes, but the MCPS transportation department rejected it. "MCPS did not think it would be safe to drop students in the bus area and encouraged us to think about other alternatives," Stokes said.

The new plan was verbally approved by the county during a meeting in January, according to Funk.

Before finalizing the plan, Funk said he needs to finish analyzing traffic patterns in the parking lot and get final approval from MCPS. He expects that the site will be ready within the next few weeks, once all the snow has melted so that markings can be painted on the pavement and signs can be put up directing parents.

Once the area is designated, it is still subject to change by Funk if deemed necessary. "We'll have to see how well it works," Stokes said.

The finalized plan will be announced in the coming weeks.

Kathy Jee. Kathy Jee is a junior in the Magnet Program and is excited to be a part of the wonderful Silver Chips staff. When not in school, she enjoys playing basketball and obsessing over "American Idol." She is looking forward to another stressful year of school... More »

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