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The somewhat scary but mostly frustrating situation that evolved on Monday at Collins High School – when the school received a “security breach” that ultimately earned the students an extra day before end-of-school tests and an early ride home – brought to light an issue that we have feared could be key as the school became settled in its location and routine.
When students were dismissed from their safe perch in the middle of Titan Stadium, just after 1 p.m., there ensued a massive traffic jam as buses – more than usual – and anxious and accelerated parents at once jammed into Discovery Boulevard and tried to find their way to their relief routes.
And from that mess arose a question that has lingered with us ever since 2010,when the school opened: What about that alternate access road to the campus?
You likely know the story. Shelby County Public Schools thought it had a deal with WAZE Development, which planned to build homes and condos on the east side of Discovery Boulevard under which WAZE would build the road through to Midland Industrial Boulevard and create a second or rear entrance to the campus, thus relieving what was expected to be – and sometimes is – a logjam at the U.S.60.
But WAZE’s planned development fell through, and that road hasn’t been built. The school district has sued, and the case continues to be in legal limbo. Each side thinks it had a deal, and those deals differ.
On Monday, however, the demand for that road became exceedingly clear.
All you have to do is imagine that if the threat at the school had been real, if something awful would have happened, if students would have had to be moved and emergency equipment – which of course helped create the clog on Monday – would be dashing to and from the campus.
More parents would be trying to find their kids. A firmer perimeter would be set up. The traffic backups reached KY 55 in Shelbyville on Monday. Can you imagine the backups in both directions should there be a true threat? What if there were an accident on U.S. 60 that also affected that flow?
This won’t work. There needs to be better access, as we all have known since that first class bell rang.
Yes, there’s a gravel road through to Ardmore Lane that administrators have said they would use in a true emergency. But should we put our students and their safety in that position? Should we accept having to rely on a back road through a tight neighborhood street when clear path to a boulevard has been designed, approved and all but built?
No, we can’t. That simply is not good enough.
For the sake of the students – and not just the rush to arrive in the mornings – let’s get this road built. Let’s remove the discussion from the complexities of the court and return it to common sense. Surely there is a middle ground that could be reached, surely there is a solution.
Monday, thankfully, was a prank or a false alarm. The next time, the situation could be real, and we fear the process of helping those students could be stuck in traffic.