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Parents hope wider road eases traffic at Centennial Arts Academy

Gainesville considering $25,000 plan

POSTED: February 12, 2008 5:03 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Cars line up on Touchdown Drive as parents come to pick up their children at Centennial Arts Academy. Touchdown Drive is slated to be widened to keep cars from lining up onto Pearl Nix Parkway.

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Parents soon may not spend as much time sitting in their cars in the student pickup and drop-off lines at Centennial Arts Academy.

The city is considering a $25,000 plan to expand Touchdown Drive, a short road that connects Pearl Nix Parkway to school-busy Century Place, from two to four lanes.

The project, which calls for adding right-turn lanes, should bring a smile to student chauffeurs, as well as others heading to neighboring Gainesville High or Gainesville Middle schools.

As it is, traffic backs up — particularly in the morning — at Centennial, with cars flowing down Century Place, Touchdown Drive and onto the four-lane Pearl Nix Parkway, a busy thoroughfare.

"You have people trying to cross and merge and then you have people on the side of the road being passed by the traffic that’s coming by," said Charlotte Crow, a Flowery Branch mother who takes her first-grader and fifth-grader to Centennial each day.

"We manage it, but you just really don’t want to have that kind of congestion. ... The more congestion, the more potential there is for accidents."

Principal Susan Gilliam kept a log of traffic in September and noticed that the wait time to drop off students before school was five minutes.

"We use our safety patrols and teachers, and as soon as they pull up, (the students) get right out of the cars," Gilliam said. "So the traffic is moving fairly quickly. It’s just the number of cars."

She pointed to two causes for the heavy traffic.

The school has several students who live outside the Gainesville city system and have no access to bus transportation.

Also, "parents are just a little bit hesitant about putting their (younger) children on that big yellow bus."

Public Works Director Adrian Niles said that once City Council gives its OK to the project, city crews can complete the project in a couple of weeks.

Beyond the construction, workers will have to do some lane restriping. Also, the project will mean taking down some trees, Niles said.

City Manager Bryan Shuler said that with the council’s approval, crews could finish the project by the end of spring break in April with the most disruptive work during that week when school is not in session.

He added one note of caution.

"I don’t control the weather," Shuler said. "That would be the one factor that could influence (the project)."


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