Traffic concerns at Spalding Elementary delay city support for new school
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The Sioux City Community School District is hoping to move full speed ahead with plans to build a new north side elementary school. However, a traffic backlog at another school building may put the brakes on any future project plans.
"It's hard to get through when everybody crowds in," pointed out Maegen Benton while she sat in a car waiting for her student.
"This is something that I deal with on a daily basis," added another Spalding Elementary Parent Tim Hall.
Cars line up to leave Spalding Elementary School at the end of the day. Parents say it's worse in the morning.
When asked what the longest time she'd ever waited was, Benton said, "about 45 minutes."
She said the situation was worse at the beginning of the school year. Still, parents have resorted to some creative ways to avoid the traffic jam.
"I park off of campus because I'd rather walk and get out quicker," said Hall.
"I purposely come late so I don't have to deal with, so my kid is usually sitting out here all alone," Benton added.
"We have not received those concerns from anyone ever before," said Sioux City Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman, when asked if the district worried about the traffic situation at Spalding.
Traffic studies, which the school superintendent stands by, helped the school district determine where students live and the route parents would take.
"Our traffic study was done with the notion that people come to school to pick up their child, then go back home. But, it is possible that somebody might leave that campus and go a different direction," Gausman explained.
"The engineer made an assumption that everyone was going to go one way out of there and they don't," said Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott.
Scott's solution is to upgrade the traffic lights at the Gordon Drive intersection. He estimates it would cost $200,000-$300,000, and says the school district needs to help foot the bill.
"The city didn't create that problem and the school district needs to partner with us," Scott said during and after a meeting with the district Monday night, where the school's Operations Director presented plans for a new northside elementary school.
Scott told district officials they'll have to solve the issue at Spalding before moving forward with any new building projects that they want city support for. The district is hoping the city will sign off on road work around the new northside elementary school they want to build at the former Hoover Middle School site.
"I'm not going to vote for this until we have solutions and solve some of the problems we already have," said Scott.
Gausman refused to comment specifically on Scott's proposal, but said, "I fully expect that we'll go through this process together and that the challenges outlined will be addressed."
Not all the frustration is being taken out on the school district. Some say it's the parents that need to be more patient.
"The school at large does a good job with the way they manage the traffic," Hall said.
In response to the concerns voiced this week, the district sent officials out to Spalding Tuesday afternoon to monitor the situation.
They say it took 14 minutes for the last cars to exit the parking lot.
Council members have asked the district for another meeting to discuss their concerns.
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