Sikeston Junior High unveils new traffic control plan

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SIKESTON -- Parents who pick up and drop off their seventh and eighth graders in the Sikeston R-6 School District have a new traffic control plan to follow for the new school year.

In prior years, motorists in the vicinity of Sikeston Junior High School during the start and end of the school day may have experienced backups along Route Y/West Salcedo Road.

"Previously, cars turned off of Route Y onto North West Street and then waited for their students--causing backups onto Route Y during peak traffic times," said Jeanne Anne Sullivan, assistant principal of Sikeston Junior High School.

To save time and help create a safer pickup/drop off zone, a new traffic control plan was created by city, school and Missouri Department of Transportation officials. The plan took effect Wednesday, which also marked the first day of the new school year.

The new plan instructs parents who pick up or drop off their children to take Brushwick, turn right onto Thornwood Avenue and then head south on North West Street.

Parking is available on North West Street as well as Thornwood Avenue.

When exiting, parents take West Lindenwood Ave and turn left at the four-way stop onto Brushwick to access Route Y/Salcedo Road.

"It's for the safety of the children and management of the congestion of traffic at this point," Sullivan said about the new plan. "There are a lot of people who live out in Ridgeview and this area, and getting to and from work and home is quite a problem during school dismissal and arrival times."

The goal is to get more vehicles off Route Y to alleviate the congestion on the higher-speed road, Capt. Jim McMillen, public information officer for Sikeston Department of Public Safety.

"This won't fix the issue, but we can try to at least make it better," McMillen said."I think it's going to help some. ... The main thing that's going to be better is having the cars themselves stacked up around the school as opposed to Salcedo."

McMillen said the discussion about backed up traffic began last school year when he was asked to serve on a parent advisory board at the Junior High.

"Students who walk to and from the school cross Salcedo, and I didn't realize how bad the traffic is (after school)," McMillen said. "I sat out there. You have kids carrying musical instruments and backpacks."

McMillen talked to school and city officials as well as those with MoDOT. They looked into a pedestrian activated crosswalk alert system, but due to budget issues for all parties, the next best plan was to repaint the crosswalk and reroute the pickup line, he said.

Sullivan said Sikeston Junior High sent out an SIS call to alert parents of the new procedure prior to Wednesday. A map was also posted on the school's website and Facebook page.

Dismissal for the Junior High goes fairly fast, Sullivan pointed out.

"We're the fastest-dismissing school in the district," Sullivan said, adding dismissal is usually completed within 10 minutes.

Dismissal is at 3:08 p.m. for seventh graders and 3:10 p.m. for eighth graders.

"If we have concerns from parents, we will certainly address that," Sullivan said. "We ask parents not to block driveways."

In addition to the new traffic control plan at the Junior High, McMillen said the start of the new school year is also a good time to remind motorists to be more cautious of school buses and children.

"School zones are always a big deal, especially in the first few days of the new school year," McMillen said. " People aren't used to that and more traffic in general. People are going to school and work and they need to allow for more time to do that because the roads are more congested."

Be alert and watch for school children getting on and off buses, and be sure to stop for buses, McMillen said.

"Watch out for pedestrian traffic with kids walking to schools," McMillen said. "The kids are aren't used to walking to school yet, and motorists aren't used to having them out there. Please drive reasonably in school zones."