There are three ways Erica Gutierrez tries to get out of the Bell Tower neighborhood every morning to drop off her daughter at school: down Mockingbird Lane, through Zac Lentz Parkway or cutting through neighborhoods to avoid heavy traffic at Victoria East High School.
But all those routes still lead to traffic congestion at the high school. Gutierrez, who works in Port Lavaca, said she has to leave home at 7 a.m. to drop off her daughter, Alayna Herron, a sophomore at Victoria East, so she can arrive at work on time. The morning and afternoon traffic jam can last anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes, Gutierrez said.
“I’ve tried everything. It’s such a hassle,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t know. I feel like we’ve been beating a dead horse with our concerns about traffic and why it is like this.”
Gutierrez said she dealt with the morning and afternoon traffic at the high school for several years when her older daughter, Arianna Gutierrez, was a student at the campus. Gutierrez said she has not seen much improvement in traffic over the years.
“It’s always horrible. I get angry thinking about taking my daughter to school or picking her up,” Gutierrez said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Since East and West high schools opened in 2010, the traffic has frustrated parents because there is only one entrance and exit for each campus. In the past, drivers have created their own ways to avoid traffic. While some parents, such as Gutierrez, opt to stick it out in traffic, others have tried to avoid the traffic by parking in neighborhoods and having their children walk through traffic.
The Victoria school district has discussed building a second entrance and exit at East High School for the past few years to help alleviate the traffic. Improvements and a future access point at Loop 463 frontage road were a part of the estimated $2.1 million designated for the high school in the district’s bond proposal that failed in 2017.
School board president Tami Keeling said solutions for traffic at the schools are an ongoing conversation the school district needs to have with the city and the Texas Department of Transportation.
“We have to continue to work with everyone to adjust as the town continues to grow and develop,” Keeling said.
Angie Martinez, whose daughter is a sophomore at West High School, said she has to leave her home on Mistletoe Avenue at 6:40 a.m. so she has time to navigate through traffic and to ensure her daughter is on time at school. On the first day of classes, traffic on U.S. 87 was backed up past the overpass at Zac Lentz Parkway. Most of the time, though, traffic to the school is backed up to the Texan convenience store.
The afternoon is not much better, Martinez said.
“Once traffic from the high school seems to slow down, it picks right up because then Cade (Middle School) releases their students, too,” Martinez said. “It’s just like ... I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Keeling said the traffic should get better within the next couple of weeks as more drivers adapt to traffic patterns.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience, and we want everyone to be safe out there,” Keeling said.