`Drive-by droppings’ worry town

Carrie ClickPost Independent Staff

NEW CASTLE – A new pedestrian bridge across Elk Creek, linking downtown New Castle with the Riverside School campus, is providing a safe passage for students walking and biking to school. But it’s also creating a dangerous traffic problem. Parents driving their children to school from Castle Valley Ranch and other points east are dropping their kids off at the eastern side of the bridge on 7th Street to avoid driving the extra half-mile to the school parking lot. There’s no place to turn off at the bridge, so cars are coming to a dead stop while kids unload – or worse, kids are getting out of vehicles right in the middle of the road. “It’s a case of drive-by droppings,” said Chris Sadler, a New Castle police officer. New Castle town administrator Steve Rippy said Kurt Lundin, the town of New Castle’s maintenance supervisor, is monitoring morning traffic at the site.”We had a report of a lady stopping right in the middle of the road, and a child getting out in the middle of the street,” Rippy said. “We’re very concerned about the safety of the kids. There is a potential here of someone getting killed.”Riverside principal Chuck Shupe said he has “a direct view of the new bridge” from his office window. He’s seen parents stopping in the middle of the road and pulling into the veterinary clinic’s parking lot across the street. And he’s seen something else too.”I saw one of our students walking across the bridge on the side rail,” he said. “I’m telling kids that if they fall off that bridge, that’s 15 feet down and they’re landing on rocks.”Shupe said the new bridge is “so much safer than the highway bridge” that crosses Highway 6 & 24 – previously the only way Riverside students could get back and forth to school on foot. But Sadler and members of the New Castle police department are equally concerned about the drop-off problem. “There’s a dangerous curve right where the bridge is that makes it difficult to see,” Sadler said. “The speed limit is only 20 mph in this area, but all it takes is somebody speeding and coming up on cars stopped in the road to drop off students.”Rippy hopes that parents will understand the pedestrian bridge is for kids walking and biking, not for kids being driven to school. “Using the bridge as a drop-off is endangering their children,” he said. Sadler said he drove the route from the new bridge to the Riverside School parking lot, allowing for the time it would take for students to unload from a vehicle. He said the extra time it takes to drop off kids at this much safer location is 3.5 minutes.Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext.

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