By Dot Bergin
Residents of Sweetwater Avenue and Hayden Lane met at the Lane School on October 25 to air their views on the proposed reconfiguration of the school’s traffic flow and parking.
Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills led the discussion, to which the neighborhood was invited, first introducing Justin Humphreys, TBA Architects, the Concord based firm currently working on the Lane School expansion. Humphreys reviewed two options for easing congestion and increasing parking spaces at the school. Members of the School Committee and the Lane School Building Committee were also present, to hear neighbors’ concerns. Sills explained that the School Committee would have the final decision on which option to choose and the Committee is keenly interested in hearing from neighbors.
As outlined by Humphreys, one option would expand the driveway entering the school from Sweetwater Avenue to three lanes. Buses would use one lane, cars dropping off or picking up students would use another, and the third lane would be for exiting the property. When there are major school events with heavy attendance-teacher conference nights, for instance-the third lane could be used for additional parking. The bus loop would be expanded and additional parking spaces would be provided, for a total of 155 spaces. With an expanded driveway, buses could come in together, instead of waiting in a queue, as they currently do.
The second option proposes a new road to be built from the school across open land (including a bridge across some wetlands) to intersect with North Road. This roadway would be for buses only. Cars would continue to use the existing driveway into the school.
For a detailed discussion of the proposed options, including cost estimates, see Mitch Evans’ article on the October 18 School Committee meeting: https://bit.ly/2dK4xGx. Or click here to see the full slide deck presented during the neighborhood meeting.
After looking at the two options, residents voiced their major concerns about the traffic flow as it exists today. First and foremost, neighbors complained of cars speeding along Sweetwater Avenue and Hayden Lane, as parents drop off students in the morning. There was less concern expressed about parking along the nearby streets when there is a big event at the school in the evenings, although that, too, is a concern to the school administration.On such occasions, cars are often parked on both sides of Sweetwater and Hayden Lane.
Those attending suggested a range of measures to alleviate the current situation:
- Enforce speed limits (Sills will speak with Police Chief Bob Bongiorno about extra patrols)
- Better signage (the driveway into the school is easily missed)
- Stop sign at the intersection of Sweetwater and North Road; also at end of school driveway
- Speed bumps to slow down drivers
Sills assured residents that he would share their concerns and suggestions with town administrators and the police department.