#039;Patience#039; key to navigating Elm Street

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

An Elm Street accident last week that left a Troy State University student injured has refocused attention on traffic congestion around the city's school complex.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said he and school personnel were looking at the issue.

"We're trying to determine the best us of our resources," Everage said.

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Elm Street connects Troy Elementary School, Charles Henderson Middle School and Charles Henderson High School, and presents traffic slow downs during morning and afternoon drop off and pick up at the times.

The city has no public school bussing, so students at each of the schools must either walk or come via automobiles.

"We want to do what we can to make (getting to and from school) easier on everybody," Everage said.

Currently, the police department staffs the schools with three officers: two at the elementary school and one at the intersection of Gibbs and Elm Streets. Those officers are augmented by crossing guards, also provided by the police department: one at the intersection of Gibbs and North Three Notch Streets; another at the kindergarten; one at the elementary school and one at the middle school's exit onto Gibbs Streets.

The department also provides an officer to direct traffic on U.S. 231 South at the Pike Liberal Arts School entrance in the mornings.

Middle school Principal David Helms said an additional officer at the school's entrance on Elm Street would help, but says things are about as good as they get right now.

"I think the traffic flow goes about as well as it can," he said, pointing to rerouting that was implemented several years ago.

Currently, Helms said, sixth-grade traffic enters and exits the school's drive on Elm, while seventh- and eighth-grade traffic is routed out the drive exit onto Gibbs Street.

"But we're always kicking things around to see if there are better ways to do things," he said.

Friday, Helms said he met with officials from the police department, and with city officials on Monday to discuss possibilities.

"We would like to have a duty patrolman down at the entrance gate 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon - during the peak times," Helms said.

Helms said that patience was a factor to consider in the traffic flow around his 620-student campus.

"I think we have to accept the fact that for those 30 minutes, it's going to be a slow go," he said. "Parents need to plan accordingly and not get in a hurry. We have done some looking at it and have joined with the city to look at how we do things Š we fell that (getting an extra policeman) would help us tremendously."

Everage said that he was looking into the viability of providing an extra officer if studies indicated it was necessary.

"We're monitoring the situation and have been in several conversations with school and other city officials to see how we can help," he said.

Helms, like Everage, said his main priority was safety. He encourages all parents to pick up their children on campus, rather than having children walk to an off-campus location to picked up.

"That's the really dangerous part because students are unsupervised during that time and someone stopping in the street to pick up a student could cause an accident," he said.

Another point Helms said was important to remember about the traffic flow was that the right-hand lane coming from George Wallace Drive toward Gibbs Street was a turn-lane.

"It's a right-turn-only lane and motorists coming through should use the lane closest to the center line," he said.

Although Helms said he didn't believe last week's accident was a direct result of traffic problems, he said that it was important to look at safety as the number one priority.

Everage said that the accident involving Tin Trang, 24, was atypical of the area.

"We have had very, very few accidents on Elm Street," he said.

Department figures reveal

that there were two accidents in 2003 on Elm Street, and one in 2002 during the school traffic peak.

"Most people understand that it's going to take a little while to get through the school line," he said. &uot;We need people to continue to show courtesy to other drivers in those locations."