Glenwood Elementary entry move raises concerns
August 9, 2017
Residents who live near the newly revamped Glenwood Springs Elementary School were surprised to learn recently that the planned vehicle entryway had been changed. That alteration has raised concerns about traffic circulation in the neighborhood.
Several options are being discussed for a long-term plan to better control access in and out of the south parking lot, which doubles as a student drop-off and pickup area. But for the coming school year, the relocated entry will remain as is, Roaring Fork Schools officials said.
Several residents of the Pitkin Avenue neighborhood met Tuesday with school district and city officials at the corner of 11th and School streets to discuss the situation.
"We supported the bond issue and have been participating in the school design discussions from the beginning," school neighbor Jim Neu said. However, the parking lot entry changed over the summer without notice to the neighbors, he said. "Now it looks like we're running out of solutions."
Originally, the plan was to provide access into the parking area/drop-off zone directly from 11th Street.
However, the school district was unable to obtain a full easement from the U.S. Forest Service, said Assistant Superintendent Shannon Pelland. The Forest Service owns the property just south of the new school property, which used to serve as the city's recycling center.
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The entry will instead be farther to the north, along a narrow, two-way section of School Street, she said. The reconfigured entry will allow access to the school from either 10th or 11th streets.
But neighbors are concerned about the increase in traffic on what had been a little-used street. The street is about 15 1/2 feet wide, and some homes have garages and accessory-unit access.
Another neighbor noted concern about backup on School Street from the school drop-off. Cars may try to let students out on the street, which doesn't have a sidewalk. The section of School Street north of 10th is also one-way south, which neighbors worry will cause additional conflicts.
Pelland and Desi Navarro of school project architects NV5 explained several future options. Those range from directing traffic to enter from 10th and exit on 11th; vice versa; making all of School Street adjacent to the school one-way, but reversing the direction headed north; or widening the street to better accommodate two-way traffic.
That plan will likely have to be developed over the course of the coming school year, Pelland said.
"That way we can be ready to implement any changes before school gets out next summer," she said.
The district also would like to monitor traffic patterns during the upcoming Grand Avenue bridge closure and detour, "to see what people's tendencies are and what the long-term plan might be," Pelland said.
She said the district will work with the city and representatives from the neighborhood to develop that plan.
School buses will not use the south entrance once the new school opens. While construction is ongoing, buses will come in from Ninth Street and drop students on School Street directly in front of the school.
Once construction is complete, there will be a dedicated bus loop on the north side of the school with access directly from Ninth, Pelland explained.