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School's entrance issues remedied

November 5, 2012 12:10 am

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VDOT has finished construction around this entrance to Spotsylvania High to make access easier and safer. lo110512spotsyentrancescr1.jpg

New guardrails are in, but changes to the second entrance at Spotsylvania High will continue into the winter.

By PAMELA GOULD

The steep grade at the main entrance to Spotsylvania High School has been reduced and guardrails have been installed, but modifications to the second entrance won't be finished until sometime this winter, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The changes are being made as a result of the construction of Lake Anna Parkway, which replaced Courthouse Road in front of Spotsylvania High School and at the entrance to Post Oak Middle School.

A four-mile stretch of the parkway opened in front of the high school less than a week before classes began Aug. 21.

Use of the middle and high school entrances proved challenging on the first day of school because of thick fog, orange-and-white barrels dotting the roadway, and construction vehicles continuing work in the area.

School Board member Ray Lora immediately expressed concern for student safety and for staff attempting to direct traffic into and out of the high school's main entrance, which has no traffic signal.

VDOT agreed to several modifications as a result, including stopping construction work while students were arriving for school and departing.

The agency also agreed to decrease the severity of the grade from Lake Anna Parkway into the main high school entrance to improve visibility for drivers.

That work is finished, and guardrails have been installed on both sides of that entrance to protect drivers. Lane striping is the final step to complete that work.

Principal Rusty Davis said the grade reduction at the main entrance has made a "tremendous difference" for people entering and exiting.

School officials had initially expected adjustments at both entrances to the high school to be completed by Oct. 1, and then before the end of the month, according to reports Executive Director of Operations Don Upperco made to the School Board last month.

However, work at the Post Oak Road entrance is now projected to be completed at some point during the winter, VDOT spokeswoman Tina Bundy said Friday.

She provided no details on the cause for delays other than to say, "The Oct. 1 completion date was an estimated time of completion."

The high school has two entrances. The main entrance is used during the school day for staff parking and for parents dropping off and picking up students.

The second entrance--known as the athletics entrance--is at the intersection with Post Oak Road, where there is a traffic signal. It serves as the entrance for Post Oak Middle School and to the high school's sports fields and student parking.

Traffic backed up at that light when school started because of a short turn lane that has since been expanded.

Buses also had a hard time maneuvering through the entrance area because of its odd configuration. Buses must make a sharp right turn to reach the middle school and, as a result, have been driving onto a soft shoulder to avoid oncoming traffic, Upperco said.

The three lanes serving as the entrance at the traffic signal still need to be reconfigured to ease access for buses and other large vehicles, Upperco said. Plus, asphalt needs to be laid on the shoulder of that area to harden it.

Upperco said VDOT told him it wanted to finish the parkway work in that area before taking care of the widening and shoulder issues.

He had hoped all work for the schools would be finished by mid-November, since weather could turn bad as winter approaches. But he said his priorities are safety and quality.

"We've waited this long, so what I want is a good final product that is good for all concerned," Upperco said.

Lora echoed that sentiment.

"Personally, I'm more concerned about them doing it right than the time," he said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com





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