Access project at East Union to solve student safety concerns

Due to concerns about the safety of its students during dismissal from East Union Attendance Center, the Union County School Board of Trustees voted Thursday to begin a project designed to ease traffic problems at the school.

As part of this project, which the board voted to keep at a cost of no more than $25,000, both the flow of bus traffic and car riders will be redirected.
Principal Ray Kennedy said that the 11 buses that take students to and from school every day will now pick up and drop off students at the east end of campus, behind the Henderson Building.
“We’re building two covered sidewalks out of the two back entrances of the building, which will be connected to a canopy where the buses will pick up the students,” Kennedy said.  “The existing sidewalk that exits from behind the gym will also be covered and connected to the canopy.”
Kennedy said the canopy is expected to be 175 feet long and extend parallel to the building.
In addition, the board has also approved the construction of a new road that will extend from the parking lot around the south of the campus and connect with state Highway 9.
The reason for the new project, Kennedy said, is student safety and ease of traffic flow off of the highway.
“Really, it’s all about our kids,” Kennedy said.  “We’ve almost had some incidents past year where some students almost got run over by cars.”
Up through this past year, Kennedy said, buses would enter campus by a road at the north end.  The buses would then circle around the parking lot near the baseball field and exit by the same road.  Meanwhile, those parents who were picking children up by car would enter and exit by the half circular drive facing the highway.  Because this drive was the only one available to car riders, traffic became a major concern.
“Not only was there a concern for safety, but traffic became backed up onto the highway,” Kennedy said.
As part of the solution, he said, cars will now be allowed to use both the half-circle drive and the north entrance to pick up and drop off students.
“We feel like all of these different things will help ease the traffic and make our students safer,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that two of the county supervisors – Benny Rakestraw and Randy Owen – have been very helpful in the project.
“Both of them sent out men and trucks to help move some of the culverts and begin construction on the new road,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that he did not know how long it would take for the project to be completed, but hoped it would be ready by the beginning of school in the fall.