Taneytown Elementary hopes staggering traffic eases crossing dangers

Walking pupils will leave before cars, buses arrive

January 18, 2000|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

A new system for pedestrian, car and bus traffic at Taneytown Elementary School will begin Thursday and may reduce dangers that prompted parents to ask the City Council for a crossing guard in November.

Taneytown City Council decided against hiring a crossing guard for Kings Drive in front of the school because county school transportation officials developed a plan that would keep most pedestrian traffic separate from vehicles, said Mayor Henry C. Heine.

"We'll dismiss the walkers first," said James Doolan, supervisor of transportation for Carroll County schools. "We do this at most other schools."

Pupils who walk will leave as soon as school is dismissed at 3: 10 p.m., Doolan said. They will have about 10 minutes to clear school grounds and be on their way home by the time parents who pick up their children by car are supposed to arrive. Cars and buses are to begin arriving about 3: 20 p.m.

Also, parents are to use only the first parking lot, separate from the bus loop farther down Kings Drive. Doolan said buses and cars often were mixed in traffic in front of the school, and all were going across the crosswalk where children crossed Kings Drive near Courier Drive.

Several parents who live along Courier Drive had asked the city to hire a crossing guard. They said drivers often sped and ignored children trying to cross.

But another parent, Laurie Ott, said it wouldn't be fair to spend money on a crossing guard for pupils who are eligible to ride a bus. Although the houses on Courier Drive are a few hundred feet from the school, the county provides bus transportation because the intersection at Kings Drive is dangerous, Doolan said.

The bus stop is farther away than the school from most homes, so children usually walk to school and parents have gone to help them cross.

Heine said he believes the plan might not satisfy parents who wanted a crossing guard. But he said the pupils who choose to walk across Kings Drive have the option of taking a bus and that the new traffic pattern will be safer for them if they choose to walk.

The school has put the rules of the plan in its newsletter. A county school transportation worker will attend the next PTO meeting to brief parents on the plan and answer questions, Doolan said.

Doolan said parents can help by not driving their children to school and picking them up in cars if they are eligible to ride a bus.

"They're 10 times safer in a school bus than they are in a car," Doolan said, based on accident statistics for the two modes of transportation.

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