Chase Street repaving: The school PTO weighs in


The following letter comes from the PTO at Chase Street Elementary School in response to the proposed plan to resurface Chase Street between Prince Avenue and the Loop.

 

*Note: The image below of the proposed plan has been updated to reflect discussions with ACC Traffic Engineering staff.**

 

ACC has proposed an additional crosswalk mid-block between Dubose and Boulevard, very near a wide driveway to a drugstore across the street from the school. But, had the school been contacted and been given a chance to offer input prior to the release of the plans, ACC would have realized that there is a master plan already in place for the school, and a slightly different arrangement of crosswalks would be better for all involved. Read on…

 

Dear Chase Street Elementary Community,

Tomorrow, Monday, April 11, Athens‐Clarke County Transportation and Public Works will hold a public input session on the impending repaving of Chase Street from Prince Avenue to Newton Bridge Road, which is currently scheduled to occur this summer. The session will include a brief presentation at 5:15 and then again at 6:15. After each presentation, there will be opportunities to interact with staff and submit written comments on the plan. As discussed in our recent PTO meetings, this is an issue that impacts our school, particularly the parents and students who walk to school each morning.

If you recall, last fall Chase parents and neighborhood residents were instrumental in getting the repaving postponed in order to compel consideration of pedestrian safety improvements as part of the repaving process. We asked for the opportunity, and this is our chance to shape a safer route to school. To that end, the Executive Board of the Chase Street Elementary PTO has voted to make a rare foray into the political realm by advocating for a plan of action regarding crosswalks on Chase Street by officially commenting on amendments to the proposed plan that would better serve our school.

Specifically, students and parents currently arriving by foot or bike have to cross three driveways which, during peak times, can be very busy and often quite hectic. In addition to creating potentially dangerous car/pedestrian conflicts, the existing traffic pattern slows traffic for pedestrian and vehicles alike.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.40.43 AM

In an attempt to improve pedestrian safety, the Chase Street Elementary School Council has recommended, and an official request has been submitted to the district, to reroute the sidewalk on the south edge of campus to beyond the car rider exit drive as shown in the graphic below. This plan offers the benefit of pedestrians and cyclist crossing only one, less‐congested, travel lane. In addition to increased safety for all Chase Street Elementary visitors, auto traffic is not impeded by frequent pedestrian/bicycle crossings. The PTO Executive Committee, the Chase Street School Council and Chase Street Elementary administration support this plan and expect the district to embrace it as well.

Consequently, we are asking ACC Transportation and Public Works Department to consider adding two crosswalks when Chase Street is repaved – one at the intersection of Chase and Dubose and another midblock crossing located further north near the point where residents of Lyndon, Cain and Cohen St enter the Chase Street Corridor.

The current plan developed by ACC has a single crosswalk located just north of the Buy Wise Pharmacy, would require pedestrians to navigate the extended driveway of the pharmacy. It would also direct pedestrians to the sidewalk north of the driveway where they would have to cross the vehicle drop off loop twice.

As an alternative, the crosswalk proposed by the CSE PTO at the intersection of Dubose will connect pedestrians with the sidewalk south of the visitor drive where, once extended, pedestrians would only have to cross traffic once. The proposed crosswalk further north will connect pedestrians with the sidewalk adjacent to the bus loop driveway, which will allow pedestrians to enter the front door of the school without any additional traffic crossings.

We need your assistance in alerting ACC to the needs of our school as these crosswalks are not currently part of the repaving plan. Common pedestrian planning guidelines suggest that crosswalks be located at intersections and that any mid‐block crossings be limited to a single crosswalk literally at the mid‐block length. However, as the existing crosswalks serving the medical center have shown, multiple crossings as various lengths of frequency have been successful in not only alerting drivers to high pedestrian traffic areas, but also allowing pedestrians to safely cross a busy traffic corridor.

We, the officers of the CSE PTO, believe these crossings should be coordinated with the internal sidewalks of our school campus for a safer route to school. If you agree, we urge you to attend the meeting tomorrow night. If you cannot attend the meeting tomorrow night, you can still submit a written comment online via ACC’s website requesting that these crosswalks be considered in the repaving of Chase Street.

We hope to see you tomorrow night. If you cannot make the meeting, we will forward the online link to comment if you are so inclined. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or input on the PTO’s crosswalk recommendations, feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your time.

Josh Koons, CSE PTO President