Saline Area Schools Consider Traffic Improvements for Campus Parkway

 01/26/2018 - 05:57
Supt. Scot Graden discusses a recent traffic study for Campus Parkway
Supt. Scot Graden discusses a recent traffic study for Campus Parkway that examines several options for improving traffic flow and safety.

Saline Area Schools officials are looking for ways to improve traffic congestion as well as driver and pedestrian safety along Campus Parkway, and several concepts for rerouting and improving traffic are under discussion.

The school district commissioned a study by consulting firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber and had individuals on site in April 2017 doing traffic counts and looking for turning patterns and heaviest traffic times.

The school district followed up with a draft report in October of 2017 and community forum Thursday, Jan. 18 to get public input on several options being examined. Supt. Scot Graden brought a presentation with the options to the school board at its Jan. 23 meeting, discussing various traffic improvement options and relaying some of the feedback that attendees at the forum provided.

Issues that prompted the traffic study included backups on the parkway and surrounding roads during morning drop off and afternoon pick up times, as well as during football games and other big events, and issues related to line of sight and pedestrian safety at various locations around the school campus. Any steps the district takes to mitigate traffic will also have to be coordinated with future site development.

Graden said that some school districts choose to force one-way traffic, so that all buses and cars come in one direction and flow out the other. However, because Saline has a complex of buildings and roads, school officials are reluctant to force a one-way flow and are, instead, looking at some more complicated solutions, with five main concepts on the table. (See the slideshow at the bottom of this article for details and maps for each concept.)

Some of the changes involved adding turn lights or paving new lanes, while other less extreme changes involved changing the timing of traffic lights, painting new traffic lines or adding additional signage.  All five concepts focus on breaking up congestion, making left turns less dangerous for drivers, and improving pedestrian safety.

One area that is currently a concern is the entry to the aquatic center. The curb is currently marked off with cones, but some parents still park there during drop off and pick up, and the parked cars can create a blind spot and make it difficult to see students walking through that area to the entrance. Creating a raised “tabletop” of concrete in that area was proposed to make it clearer that no cars should park in that spot.

Another spot that is problematic for pedestrian safety is the southwest gravel lot. At minimum, board members felt the area needed better lighting, and there is discussion about whether the lot should be paved and whether a pedestrian crosswalk there would improve safety.

Graden and the trustees said they were willing to spend money and deal with conflicts if it improved student safety, but other issues are merely related to convenience rather than safety. They discussed the trade-off between convenience and cost, since congestion is typically only a problem for about 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.

“Do we need a half million dollar investment to solve something that is inconvenient for 30 minutes a day?” Graden asked.

School bond money could be used for paving and lights since the roads in question are adjacent to the school, but any design would have to be brought to the road commission because the Parkway is a county road. Graden said that speaking with road commissioners informally, any of the concepts would be acceptable, although some might need minor tweaks.

Actions that could be completed fairly quickly and would provide immediate improvements in pedestrian safety would include better signage, creating additional pedestrian crosswalks like the one already in use between Harvest Elementary and the high school and adding lighting in dangerous areas.

Other improvements will wait until the summer of 2019 as the district is already planning to use bond funds for other improvements at that time.

For more information, download the PDF attached below.

Sarah Rigg
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. She has worked in community journalism for over 20 years covering education, business, arts & culture and other topics as a reporter, with experience in copy editing, layout, and proofreading.