Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Congestion and Traffic Concerns by Aaron Skabelund

The following was presented at the Rivergrove Neighborhood Meeting May 8th, 2012:

My name is Aaron Skabelund and I am the vice-chair of the Rivergrove Neighborhood. Both of my sons, who are now at Provo High School, attended Freedom Academy for several years after Grandview Elementary was closed. We were happy to have what proved to be an excellent school close by but troubled by the traffic problems that the school was creating for the south end of our neighborhood.

I have been asked to say a few words about the vehicular traffic congestion created by Freedom Academy. I can offer a fairly objective view of the problem because I have not been personally impacted by the congestion caused by the school. I do not live in the immediate neighborhood most adversely affected by the congestion, my boys walked to school when they attended Freedom Academy, and I generally bicycle everywhere so vehicle traffic jams don’t bother me.

I focus on the problems created by the K-8 school up to this point, not on potential problems of an expansion. The congestion since Freedom Academy arrived in our neighborhood is extraordinary and well-documented. There are many, many examples I could mention. Residents have faced clogged roads each morning and afternoon, and cars idling their engines and blocking their driveways. One couple returning from a trip one afternoon found the street so crowded on both sides they could not make their way down it without taking off another vehicle’s mirror. I could mention other incidents but I think it is best to emphasize two points.

First, the length of the pick-up line in the afternoons is telling. Each afternoon, the line of parents in cars waiting to pick up their children extends down 900 North, around the corner on 1050 West, down 1020 North, around another corner and up 1000 West. (Then there is often a break in the line and additional cars wait in the south parking lot of Lions Park.) That is just the number of vehicles waiting for pick-up, but they are joined by many more cars.

Second, to understand why all these cars cause such problems, it is imperative to remember that Freedom Academy is located on a local or residential street with limited access points. All other schools in Provo, such as Westridge down the street, are located on collector or alterial roads, which have multiple access points. Plus many--though not enough--kids at such neighborhood schools walk or bike to school, and some may even be bussed in. And unlike 900 North, the roads these schools are on are wider and designed to handle much greater traffic volumes.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that while my family was happy to have this school relocate nearby, a school this size should never have been allowed to be built on a residential street like 900 North.  But it was, and nothing can be done except to try to mitigate those problems.  Faced with this ongoing congestion, which still has not been entirely resolved, it is irresponsible to propose expanding the school, which will inevitably magnify the current congestion.

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