Alexander II Magnet School will release its students by grade level at staggered times for at least the first two weeks of class.
That decision came from a meeting of county and school officials with College Hill Alliance representatives to determine how to deal with both local and school traffic during afternoon dismissal.
Drivers should follow the same traffic route in place at the end of the school year. Those picking up or dropping off students are asked to turn onto College Street from either Ash or Coleman Streets, then turn right onto College Place to enter campus. Then, a right turn only sign on Oglethorpe Street will direct school traffic away from the new roundabout.
Students with a sibling in another grade at the school may be picked up at either of the assigned times, said David Gowan, director of risk management for the Bibb County school district.
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Drivers will also be allowed to use the parking lot in Tattnall Square Park to walk students to the school.
“Our goal is not to have cars blocking the public streets,” Gowan said. “We really need the parents’ cooperation with the staggered arrival time. That’s going to be the key to a successful plan.”
If the plan works and traffic flows smoothly, the new pickup times may become permanent even after the roundabout opens in a couple of weeks.
However, some parents think that staggering dismissal times with 10 minutes between groups isn’t a practical solution.
“I don’t think there’s any way that Alex II is going to be able to implement a staggered release schedule,” Brooke Kinross, parent and teacher appreciation chairwoman at the school, said. “It just seems really hard (and) really difficult to do that. Especially considering that parents can’t always guarantee what time they’re going to arrive.
“You’re still going to have a bunch of people showing up at the same time to get their children.”
As part of the $1.25 million College Street Streetscape project, under construction since spring, a bike lane and on-street parking are being added to both sides of College Street between Oglethorpe and Ash streets, allowing room for just one lane of traffic in each direction.
The Macon-Bibb special purpose local option sales tax, a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation and funding from Mercer University helped pay for the project in the College Hill Corridor, which includes a roundabout at the intersection of College and Oglethorpe streets.
Bill Causey, the project manager, said the staggered pickup times are an experiment.
“I think we’re all going to wait and see if that plan works,” he said. “We don’t know until we try it.”
As part of the project, the parking lot in Tattnall Square Park that was closest to the school has been demolished and turned back into green space.
Eric Spears, president of the Parent Teacher Association at the school, said many parents are worried where they will park.
He said he expects students living in the new apartments next door will take up much of the parking on College Street.
“(Parking) is a concern because (parents) aren’t sure how this is going to play out over the next few months with the re-opening of College Street,” Spears said. “There’s a lot of walk-in traffic at Alex II.”
Kinross said she wonders how the traffic plan will work once College Street is open to local traffic and the roundabout is complete. She said Ash, Coleman and College streets will become almost inaccessible to regular commuters.
“I really feel that Alex II, as a school, has been pushed aside,” she said. “Who cares about us and how we get to school and home?”
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.