With three buildings next to each other, school leaders are coming up with ways to handle a traffic issue for the Hobbton district.
Phil Matthews, executive director of plant operations, reported that 1,600 people arrive in a 40 minute time span, which creates a traffic situation in the area. During a Tuesday work session for the Sampson County Schools (SCS) Board of Education, he complimented administrators and staff members Hobbton’s elementary, middle and high schools for their efforts with the traffic flow.
According to the report, Highway 701 is busy in the morning with normal traffic. At 7:15 a.m., it showed that a school bus making a left turn while leaving Hobbton Elementary School (HES) had a noticeable wait time before it could get on the highway. Five minutes later, a school bus trying to turn into the school’s driveway, backed up traffic. These were just some of the issues listed in the overview.
“Parents dropping off students, trying to get back on the highway, headed north tends to be the problem,” Matthews said about motorist trying to make a left hand turn.
To improve traffic, right hand turn lanes were suggested for HES and Hobbton High School. The current right right turning lane at Hobbton Middle School (HMS) is the last school on the campus for southbound traffic. After this point, traffic clears. Matthews said the state’s Department of Transportation would work with the district on the project, but SCS would have to fund it.
Another idea was to put up flashing lights on school zone signs recommending 35 miles per hour. Frustrated drivers passing through the area were also a concern. Board Chairman Telfair Simpson stressed that motorist should adjust their start times if they’re running into traffic and thought that the flashing lights would be a good idea.
“When I see those flashing lights, it makes me hit the brake,” Simpson said.
Board member Patrick Usher mentioned how having a police officer present would be beneficial too. Matthews said flashing lights from a squad car would help slowdown traffic too during school peak times.
Altering start times at the schools were also suggested, since it would not be a costly thing to do.
“My fear is that staggering the start times would not reduce the amount of traffic,” Matthews said about trading heavier congested for a longer period of time. “You’re trading one situation for another.”
He suggested that the administration would research it before making a decision, for the sake of parents.
While discussing the matter, board member Dewain Sinclair brought up how middle school traffic is congested since there’s one road, from 701 Highway leading to the school.
“It’s just a tight situation there,” Sinclair said.
After observing Cumberland County school traffic, Simpson questioned if a crossing guard would be helpful. In the morning, Matthews said he don’t know how a person in the morning would be beneficial.
“The only thing they could do is stop the traffic in the lane and let the parents exiting the schools , come onto the road,” Matthews said.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy made a suggestion to have all three principals meet to go over start times or taking other actions.
“We’ll try to report back at the next meeting to see what their consensus is and we’ll try to make a decision based on that,” Simpson said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.