Lehighton district tackles parent traffic issues | Times News Online
Published March 29. 2023 02:45PM
by Jarrad Hedes [email protected]
Grabbing an early spot in the school pickup line may delight some parents, but Lehighton Area School District officials said Monday it’s causing a traffic pattern nightmare each afternoon.
Lehighton Superintendent Dr. Christina Fish said some elementary school parents or guardians are lining up for pickup as early as 1:15 p.m. for a 3 p.m. dismissal, leading to a logjam on the inner campus street when the high school lets out shortly after 2:15 p.m.
“It’s been challenging because we have traffic from in front of the elementary center all the way around to the administration office,” Fish said.
When the elementary pickup crowd lines the street, vehicles coming out of high school parking lots are unable to make a left turn.
“That is leading people to make a poor choice and travel down the oncoming traffic lane to get around the amount of vehicles accumulating there,” Fish said. “Our infrastructure doesn’t really allow us to go anywhere with a third lane there. It’s not feasible not only from a fiscal standpoint, but also from a logistics standpoint.”
High School Principal Sue Howland said one of the issues with blocking access in and out of that building’s parking spots is the irregular departure and arrival times of students.
“The high school is like a mini-college campus in that we have students who might be leaving early for dual-enrollment courses or they have early departure senior privileges,” she said. “And then some of those students are coming back for an athletic practice or extracurricular activity after school. Those practices may start at 2:30 or 3 and there is no way for them to get back in because cars are blocking traffic.”
To help address the issue, Fish said, the district is planning additional signage and a promotional campaign to try and encourage elementary parents to arrive later, while also urging high school student drivers to make good choices when departing campus.
“We would really like elementary parents to wait until 2:45 to start lining up for pickup,” Fish said. “Encouraging parents to utilize bus transportation instead of pickup is another way that we could alleviate some of this backup.”
Because the school district has its own police officers, it is responsible for patrolling its own grounds instead of Lehighton Borough officers. The district employs two officers and has been trying to add one more.
“That third officer would really help us out with this situation because we could have them put a focus on, not necessarily ticketing, but having a discussion about maybe pulling in the administration parking lot and waiting if you have to show up that early,” Fish said. “It’s something we hope to be able to solve because we are concerned that if things continue the way they are, we could be looking at a potential accident.”