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High school traffic remains concern for parents, students

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Sept. 12, 2010 at 4:12 a.m.

Traffic pours onto U.S. Highway 87 as West High School concludes classes about 4 p.m. Thursday.

Victoria West High School senior Brandi Carlisle sat with her vehicle in park after school waiting for traffic to clear.

"It's a big mess over here," she said, looking out her window. "I'm just waiting here before it clears up, and then I go home."

In front of her, a line of cars circled around the parking lot and continued to the light on U.S. Highway 87. The line mixed with buses and traffic from Cade Middle School.

"There needs to be at least two entrances," Carlisle said.

At Victoria East High School, opinions are similar, but more concerned with student safety because those who live less than two miles away are not eligible for bus service.

At the intersection of Mockingbird Lane and Carriage Drive (the school exit) students walk across the four-lane road with no crosswalk.

"I think that's dangerous," said Esther Cortez, who refuses to let her children walk to school. "It would be good if there was a four-way stop for everybody to take turns."

Parents like Norma Kelliher have made adjustments. Kelliher usually arrives early, but expects to wait 30 minutes to get her children dropped off.

"Either way it's going to take time," she said. "You can't change it."

Traffic has significantly decreased since the start of school.

"I think it's staring to come together," said Diana Rigamonti, assistant principal at Victoria West High School while she helped monitor after-school traffic. Half the parked cars in the lot were slowly making their way to the single exit about 20 minutes after the 4 p.m. bell.

"If you can clear a school in 30 minutes I think you're doing a great job," she said.

But many believe the progress is not enough and hope for a second entrance to be built.

The school district continues to promote students ride the bus and for parents be patient and allot extra time for travel.

"We don't have any plans right at the moment for a second entrance anywhere," said Ron Leach, chief operations officer with the school district.

Original plans at the East school show possible entrances along Ben Jordan Street and John Stockbauer Drive.

The city did not recommend Ben Jordan because of traffic from Deleon Elementary.

"We recommended that they don't have access to Ben Jordan," said Ray Miller, deputy director of development services. "We didn't say it couldn't be done. We just didn't think that was one of the best options."

An exit onto John Stockbauer could be possible and would have to line up with nearby city streets.

"What that does is put all the turning movement and what we call conflicts in one spot," Miller said.

At the West campus, the Texas Department of Transportation says a second entrance could be possible onto the frontage road of Loop 463, but the land between the school and the road is private.

Leach said even if an entrance was considered right now, it would take a long time and would involve buying land, installing drainage and going out for construction bids.

"It would take a long period of time to build one," he said.

At the West campus, drivers not willing to enter the campus traffic to pick-up students stopped along the highway and picked up students.

"It's only going to take one to get hurt," Rigamonti said. "To me, with the time saved it's not worth risking a life."

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