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Drivers park along highway students cross lanes to avoid traffic

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Oct. 15, 2010 at 5:15 a.m.


West High School heavy traffic time

Classes begin at 8:30 a.m.

Classes dismiss at 4 p.m.

Two students darted into U.S. Highway 87 and disappeared behind the nose of an 18-wheeler shortly after school released at West High School.

Susie Rosales, who was parked along the highway waiting to pick up her granddaughter, from a distance witnessed the scramble.

"That's every day that you see these kids having to play what we used to call frogger a long time ago," she said. "It's chaos. They need more driveways or more police security out here."

Rosales runs the daily risk of getting struck by vehicles when she parks along the highway. The posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour, but for her the shorter five to 10 minute wait is worth it to keep from driving into the crowded West High School parking lot.

"It's hell getting in there and getting out," she said. "It's not really safe for us to be out here because they could run us over but it's better than being in that chaos."

About 10 cars line up on the southbound lane shoulder as children walk to the edge of school property to hop into vehicles.

Charlye Hamilton, a 16-year-old West junior, often catches her ride either parked along the highway or crosses the six-lane road to get picked up along Nursery Drive.

"It's pretty simple as long as you go at the right time, but other than that it could be very dangerous," she said, about walking across the highway safely.

She says the traffic keeps her ride from driving into the parking lot or her from taking the bus.

"It takes 20 minutes to get out of that line right there," she said, pointing. "And it's easier to just walk across the street or even the store than to just sit there."

It is not illegal for the cars to park along the highway according to Texas Traffic Code, said Sgt. Julian Huerta, with the Victoria Police Department, although it creates a dangerous situation.

"Even so it is not very smart, especially in inclement weather conditions," he said.

It is not illegal for pedestrians to walk across highways in the city limits because the city does not have a jaywalking ordinance against it.

"Without a jaywalking ordinance they're not doing anything wrong," Huerta said.

Safety along the highway boils down to one thing.

"I can't and we can't legislate commonsense," he said. "If they feel it's safe to do so more power to them."

Highway-parking parents are divided on the situation.

Robert Hamilton smoked a cigarette with his music turned up as he waited for Charlye, his daughter.

"I don't see where I'm causing any kind of problems," he said. "I'm sitting on the shoulder."

Jimmy Roach, deputy director of public works for the city, said posting no parking signs along the highway would be the only way to stop the parkers, but that would require a city ordinance if the distances are greater than 100 feet. He hasn't received any complaints, but said it will be reviewed.

"Right now I have no reasons suggesting that to the council or suggesting to the director," he said.

The highway parkers and students dodging traffic say a second entrance could fix the situation, but the school district has no plans for that, said Diane Boyett, communications specialist with the district.

Boyett said bus-riding will help fix things.

"Parents can let their children ride the bus and then they're not caught in traffic at all," she said.

Many parents who pick up their children complain of long bus rides for the students.

Hamilton said his daughter would get home at nearly 6 p.m. if she rode the bus. He prefers the 10 minute wait along the side of the road instead.

Tracy Hanes, who lives in the nearby Lakeforest neighborhood, nearly hit a student and believes the situation is dire.

"I'm worried there's going to be a child that's hit, and we're all going to be up in arms, and then we're going to take action," she said.

But Charlye, like most students, doesn't see it quite so, and like the oncoming traffic, doesn't see herself stopping anytime soon.

"I'm planning on keeping on doing it or getting my own car," she said. "Either way you've got to be careful."

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