LaGrange City Council officially flips one-way traffic by LaGrange High School

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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The discussion of traffic flow outside of LaGrange High School seems to be over for now.

The LaGrange City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night to flip the one-streets where students are picked up. Currently, access to the high school to pick up students is through Ridley Avenue, turning left on Highland Avenue, then left on Marshall and left again on West Bacon, taking motorists back to Ridley.

The ordinance will now require motorists to turn left on West Bacon Street, right on Marshall Street, and then right again on Highland Avenue, which will remain a two-way street.

Lt. Mark Kostial of the LaGrange Police Department said he walked with John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations with TCSS, outside of the school to discuss the concerns of the school system as its relates to the accessibility of the rear of the school for emergency vehicles.

“We were able to work through that,” Kostial said.

He said the current proposal would keep the vehicles to the south curb of the streets on Bacon and Marshall, which would provide enough room for emergency vehicles.

Kostial said the biggest challenge was finding a creative way to address special needs buses, which typically pick up students beside the cafeteria on Marshall Street. He said after speaking with Transportation Director Jeffrey Turner, the school system agreed those children can safely offload those students on school property in the parking lot between the boys’ and girls’ gymnasiums.

Another issue brought up by the school system in earlier discussions was about students crossing the street after school to get to their parent’s vehicles.

Kostial said this had been a process for several years with no problems in the past.

“The school system has had a process in place whereas students have historically crossed Marshall Street during afternoon car-rider pick up time with no safety issues materializing,” he said. “Changing the direction in which traffic flows on Marshall Street is not expected to create any safety issues.”

Kostial said he doesn’t expect many vehicles to stack up on West Bacon Street with the change, provided the start of the car pickup line begins on Marshall Street. He said the road will accommodate about 100 vehicles based on its length.

“If we move those vehicles off West Bacon Street and stack them on Marshall Street, I don’t think we’d ever run into a problem with fire trucks, ambulances or law enforcement vehicles being able to access that school,” he said.

Radcliffe attended the work session Tuesday afternoon and was in total agreement with the police department.

“We spent a good amount of time out there walking up and down the road and checking it out so we’re good,” he said.

Kostial said there’s a total of five driveways on West Bacon Street, and there are about 15 on Highland where the current gridlock occurs between 2:40 p.m. and 3:20 p.m. Residents have said they aren’t able to get out of their driveway during those times.

Kostial said if cars stay along the south curb of West Bacon and Marshall during pick up times, there should be plenty of space for those residents to navigate through traffic and get back to Ridley Avenue.

Another highlight of Tuesday’s meeting was the LaGrange Housing Authority basketball team, which traveled to Birmingham on the weekend on Jan. 17-19 and finished first in an MLK tournament. Also, traveling with the team was the housing authority cheerleading and dance team, which finished third in their own competition throughout the weekend.

The council honored the team Tuesday and gathered for a group photo with both teams.