See, Click, Fix: School traffic congestion in Wilmington

Reported by Kim Ratcliff – bio |email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Parents, grandparents and guardians are concerned about the line that forms along Sanders Road every afternoon, as they wait to pick their children up from Bellamy Elementary School.

"The cars stack up along Sanders Road all the way to River Road," Dee wrote into See, Click, Fix.  "There is no blinking school speed zone sign like there is at other schools and it is almost impossible to see oncoming traffic when you are trying to turn right out of the school."

Another viewer, James, filed a report saying he thinks a turn lane is needed so the road isn't blocked around 8:00 a.m. and between 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Officials with the New Hanover County School System and North Carolina Department of Transportation went to the school to see the problem for themselves. They found cars lining up as early as 1:15 p.m. when school doesn't get out until 2:30 p.m. They found the actual dismissal process only took 20-25 minutes.

The group met and developed a few options to explore. Here is the summary given to WECT by Valita Quattlebaum, the PIO for the New Hanover County Schools:

First, NCDOT will gather actual traffic counts over the course of a couple of days in January.  This information will be used to evaluate both on-site and off-site roadway improvements that could be implemented to alleviate traffic congestion and expedite the dismissal process.  The implementation of the proposed improvements would be subject to available funding and would be considered in the upcoming capital budget process.

Second, we are going to approach the PTA for their input and assistance in encouraging students to ride the bus.  There are six buses at Bellamy that on average are only 78% utilized.  That means that there are almost 100 empty seats every afternoon.  Increasing bus rider participation is a no cost approach that maximizes our efficiency of already allocated resources.  It's also safe, convenient and environmentally sensitive.  The more students ride the bus, the fewer cars on the road and the less congestion during afternoon dismissal.

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