September 16, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
Although it has to meet with the approval of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Board of Education has settled on a traffic plan for the proposed new elementary school and the existing Northside Elementary School on North Congress Boulevard.
During a work session with the Board last Thursday, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said T-Square Engineering based in Franklin recently conducted a study to determine how best to get traffic entering the schools off of Highway 56 to reduce congestion.
T-Square offered three options but according to Cripps, the one selected by the Board will work better for this location. Each school would have its own entrance for car traffic off of Highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard) but there would also be a lane connecting the two schools should parents have to pick up and drop off children at both places. Buses would enter the Northside campus from Smith Road for student pickup/drop off and then would follow a bus (only) lane to the new elementary school for pickup/drop off to be located at the rear of both schools. After making a turnaround at the new school, buses would then exit the same way they entered via the bus lane and then back onto Smith Road.
“Its going to get the parents that bring their children to school off the road (Highway 56) both at the new school and at Northside. T-Square Engineering says two lanes looping through the campus will get up to 109 cars off of the highway at the new school and we will be adding an extra loop (lane) at Northside which will get up to 90 cars off the road there,” said Director Cripps.
“Each school will have its own car entrance. If you have children at the new school you will enter below where the Family Medical Center is located but if you have children at both the new school and Northside we will hook it up where parents will not have to re-enter the highway. We will have a lane connecting the two schools that parents can travel directly from the new school to Northside for a smoother transition. We are looking at adding a third traffic or bypass lane at the new school so that if someone gets in the wrong lane and needs to get out they can. Buses will drop off at Northside and then route behind Northside to the new school for drop off and then the buses will come back out the same way they entered. There will be no access points where cars and buses will enter at the same area,” Director Cripps added.
No construction or alterations will be needed on Highway 56 to accommodate the school traffic plan according to T-Square Engineering.
Cripps said it may take up to two months for TDOT to approve the traffic study. After that the board will review it again and then let the county commission take a look at it.
Funds are included in the school budget for the purchase of 24.5 acres of property on North Congress Boulevard near Northside Elementary School for construction of a new pre-K to 2nd grade elementary school. The price is $18,000 per acre for a total of $441,000. The purchase is subject to a favorable TDOT traffic study. The school budget includes $500,000 of available funds to cover the land purchase cost.