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FMS searches for traffic control solutions

Beginning his fourth year as principal of Farragut Middle School, Richard Dalhaus, said morning rush-hour traffic remains as one of his chief concerns.

Dalhaus said his biggest concern is getting parents to drop their children off where students do not have to negotiate through traffic.

He said, “… some parents, in need to get to work, started dropping kids off where they head into traffic … That shouldn’t be happening.”

Dalhaus said another problem is parents who ignore signage.

“[With] all that traffic … parents ignore staff parking signage and park and wait. The parking lot fills up with a lot of activity,” he said. This “adds to the potential for something to happen.”

Dalhaus said FMS has nearly 1,200 students this year, “about close to full,” and Farragut Intermediate School has about 1,100 students, in addition to nearly 200 staff members between the two schools.

FMS has one service road with one loop and one two-lane road that services staff, and “[traffic] all come[s] together in one spot.”

“Three-fourths are probably families, but even so, sometimes that means two car trips,” Dalhaus said.

To address the traffic issue, Dalhaus said he has “redefined the area according to the original plans” and put up “signage with arrows” to indicate where to access the service loop, where staff can park and where visitors can park.

Dalhaus sent a letter to parents informing them of the traffic procedures (shown left). Dalhaus said he has sent home traffic information the previous three years as well.

He said the original plans have not worked in the past because “people don’t listen to that, [they] go where [they] want and figure it out for [themselves.]”

Dalhaus said on Monday of the first week of school, “It didn’t go that smoothly …” He said a lot of people were still driving into the staff lot. Dalhaus said he did not stop those cars because he did not “want to make war.”

He said Tuesday went “a lot smoother.”

Dalhaus said the “smoother” traffic was in part due to the crossing guard from Farragut Primary School coming to FMS at 8 a.m. to direct traffic at the four-way stop.

Dalhaus said the “flow is good as soon as traffic is directed.”

He said the first step to fixing the traffic issue is to hire a person to do traffic control at 7:30 a.m.

Dalhaus also said parents could help alleviate the problem “if parents will drive all the way around [the loop] and drop off seven to eight kids at once, car pool, it helps the whole process …”

He said parents also have suggested solutions to traffic flow issues such as a second service loop.

Dalhaus said, “We’re gonna consider that. … A traffic control officer may be enough.”

He said he would be cautious to put in a second loop because that could cause a new set of problems by “sending parents in a new direction.”

Dalhaus said that although some parents are parking in handicap spaces and in the fire lane to drop their children off at school and pick them up, “I would say the majority of parents try to do the loop the way it is intended.”

Dalhaus added that 50 fewer cars are flowing through the loop this school year. He said that in recent years, FMS sold 50 parking spaces to juniors but this year the spaces were not sold because Farragut High School built additional parking.

Dalhaus said, We “won’t have high school drivers in our loop, sometimes they speed. … [that] takes out that group of drivers.”

Dalhaus said that although he is not going to worry about afternoon traffic yet, he is optimistic the traffic situation will improve.

“I think tomorrow will be even better,” he said.


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