D51 walking concerns: besides safety, traffic could back up

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

Monday is the first day of school and there's a good chance many parents will be driving their kids to school, especially now that new bus routes have put more students in 'walk to school' zones.

Every school in the district has a drop off zone, but with more students walking and potentially more parents dropping students off, some worry these zones will become even more congested and cause more potential problems.

Heavy traffic, big cars and speed. With no bus this year, Brad Chitwood's two young kids would have to cross busy Patterson Road to get to Orchard Avenue Elementary School.

"I think that's one of the busiest roads we have here in the Valley," Chitwood said of Patterson Road. "We're in the process of trying to get with other parents and figure out a way to get the kids to school and even carpool if we have to."

Others like him are looking at a similar solution now that their children are within School District 51’s new walking boundaries, but driving could cause new concerns.

"[Orchard Avenue] was busy last year when they had bussing, I can't imagine what it's going to be like this year,” Chitwood said.

It's an easy walk to Orchard Avenue Elementary for Heather Wicks' children, as they only have to meander across a crosswalk to get to class, but she knows just how busy the school can get. If more parents are driving their students to school, there is worry for student safety and traffic build-ups at drop off zones.

“You have double-traffic in double lanes where it's not really supposed to, and that reduces visibility and I’m really concerned for the kids' safety," Wicks said.

In addition to the traffic, Wick’s neighborhood is packed full of parents who park their cars and wait for their children to get out of school. Other neighbors in the area say some block their driveways and others will park in the alleyways behind their homes, neither of which are safe or allowed. Wicks says many children in the area use those alleyways to walk home, and these cars produce additional dangers when so many vehicles are trying to get in and out to pick up their students.

The school district also acknowledges these walking changes will affect many, but says the community can come together to help alleviate some of these potential problems. "It's just respecting each of those individual areas and what their purpose is, and making sure traffic is flowing the way that it's supposed to."

The school district says parents picking up and dropping off kids should go through these zones to keep traffic flowing -- they shouldn't park and wait for their students to get in the car—and if you need to park, use the lot.

Local law enforcement says it will do its best to patrol school areas, but officers can't be everywhere at once.

"Drivers just need to have a little bit of patience if they are going through those areas where there is that increased school traffic," Grand Junction police spokesperson Kate Porras said.

Since these students need to get to school whether by bus, car or foot, it seems the community will just continue to search for solutions.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Disgusted Location: Ritterville on Aug 19, 2012 at 12:19 AM
    On the positive side, we will have a really snazzy theater on main street and many cool round-a-bouts to drive on. How nifty is that?
  • by Concerned on Aug 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
    Has anyone reviewed our superintendents contract? I believe it includes $$$ for transportation! Isn't that ironic that the buses get cut but his contact is not published or reviewed to show he gets the FREE ride! This needs to be brought up at the next school board meeting.
  • by eyes on you on Aug 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM
    Hey Grand Junction City are you going to plow the side streets now so the children can get to school in blizzards, or snow storms, so the Parents can drive them safely. Not common but we still get them. Hey, businesses are you going to excuse parents for being late, so they can drive their children. Send them home in lightning storms through the city traffic. What a hateful bunch in the school Board and District 51.
  • by Loralei Location: Gj on Aug 17, 2012 at 09:09 PM
    Everyone who has been affected negatively by this reckless decision should attend the next board meeting. We must insist that the district sell some of their vacant land and make some other adjustments to make this right.
  • by voting tax payer too Location: grand junction on Aug 17, 2012 at 06:59 PM
    This is Colorado, not California. We know all the higher ups would love for this to be California.
  • by Joe Location: GJ on Aug 17, 2012 at 06:54 PM
    well, when one of these kids gets killed or taken, lets hold the school board responsible.
  • by tax payer too Location: grand junction on Aug 17, 2012 at 06:45 PM
    we asked the school district about paying for bussing for our kiddos to Orchard Avenue (at this time we have NO bussing to Orchard Avenue because their entire school radius is within 2 miles)the school district and FirstStudent told us that it would cost $540.00 a month for each one of our kiddos to be bussed. So those of you out there saying that we should just talk to them and let them know that we are willing to pay doesn't work. kids that are on the way to a school that still has bussing it might work. it will not work for us or anyone else in this neighborhood. and by the way, to YOU, Ignorant Anonymous, you must be one of these sex offendrs that are looking forward to my beautiful babes walking down your street just to get to school. We will be at the next school board meeting.
  • by Don't forget on Aug 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
    This was never a budget saving measure, they were offsetting the pay increases they gave this year to all employees!
    • reply
      by Anonymous2 on Aug 17, 2012 at 01:09 PM in reply to Don't forget
      Regardless of whether or not it was a budget saving measure -- the damage is done. It now boils down to finding a compromise to fix it. We can do all of the sounding off we want to on here about why it happened, but it doesn't fix the problem. It's time to try and create a solution, rather than beating the why's and where for's to death.
  • by Teri on Aug 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM
    Geez... How about the administration and decision makers walk to work 3 miles daily. It is funny that they can make the decision to have the children walk to and from school while they drive their cars to work with the heater going. Will it take a child to be hurt or killed before the district takes another look at this poorly made decision.
  • by Puzzled Location: Grand Junction on Aug 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM
    Did anyone consider asking the parents if they were willing to pay for a bus pass to help offset the $600,000.00 that the district was so concerned with saving? Quick math: 2011 enrollment for the district was 21,123 students -- if 25% of the enrollment buys a $25.00 per month bus pass -- that equates to $594,084.00 for the year. Pretty close to meeting the budgetary savings they have realized by the cuts. I'm certain that it would be well worth the $25.00 to most, when considering the time / fuel / logistics required to get the children to school safely.
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