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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Sunnyside Elementary parking lot project alleviates traffic congestion

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  • PREVIOUSLY REPORTED A project to relieve parking congestion at Sunnyside Elementary was completed this summer.
    The project, which started July 8, cost $210,000 and was paid for from the state's Community Transportation Fund. Smyrna School District Superintendent Debbie Wicks said the parking issue began the third year the school was open; the problem occurred when students were dropped off and picked up from school resulting in total gridlock.
    Knowing a change needed to be made, Wicks said the district had architects look into the problem. The solution involved switching the bus and car rider drop off spots. Instead of car riders getting dropped off in front of the school, the project would put car rider drop off in the back and the bus rider drop off in front of the school.
    THE UPDATE Students attending Sunnyside Elementary are now in their fourth week of the school year. The changes in the parking structure have gone well so far, according to Principal Kathleen Castro.
    "For the most part, everybody feels it's going much smoother," Castro said. "We do ask that car [drivers] don't line up too early and to really wait until recess is over at 3:05 [p.m.]."
    Castro said the changes have addressed the safety issues and traffic hazards school administrators and staff previously faced. Castro said cars were so backed up at the school, the line at times extended onto Rabbit Chase Lane.
    "The car riders now have a wider area that gives them a longer loop to drive around," Castro said. "They're not backing up onto the road now."
    Castro contributed the previous problems to the fact the school isn't in a town. Having the school out in the country means there's a lack of children walking to school.
    "Our car rider population is probably larger than other schools," she said.
    Wicks recently provided an update of the project Sept. 10 during Sunnyside's open house. She told parents the project was possible thanks to the help of the local legislators. She said Sen. Bruce Ennis, Rep. Bill Carson, Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, Sen. Brian Bushweller, Sen. Dave Lawson, and Sen. Bethany Hall-Long each contributed $35,000 from the Community Transportation Fund towards the project. Wicks pointed out the school isn't in the districts of Sen. Bushweller and Sen. Hall-Long yet they still helped with the project.
    "We're lucky to have legislators that care about us so much," Wicks said.
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.

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