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Flowery Branch steps up traffic enforcement at Davis

POSTED: September 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

The Flowery Branch Police Department is working to stop Davis Middle School-bound cars from blocking the intersection at Falcon Parkway and Hog Mountain Road. To alleviate the traffic congestion, school officials passed out fliers suggesting that parents use alternate routes to get to the school.

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Flowery Branch police are stepping up enforcement of snarling traffic that forms each weekday in front of C.W. Davis Middle School and the Atlanta Falcons complex.

"We’re going to try to come up with solutions, but the primary thing here is we can’t come up with solutions that allow people to violate laws by being in a lane they’re not supposed to be in," Chief Gerald Lanich said Tuesday.

The main issue for police is that Davis-bound motorists on Falcon Parkway have limited space to turn left into the school. So, the line of cars backs into a left-turn lane reserved for traffic going in the opposite direction and heading into the Falcons complex.

The problem is so bad, Lanich said, that on some mornings, traffic blocks Falcon Parkway’s intersection with Hog Mountain Road, where motorists also are lining up to turn left and head to the 1,300-student school.

"I remember those days very well of sitting in school lines," Lanich said. "But we get complaints from people who are trying to use the Hog Mountain intersection to go to work."

Davis motorists got a clear indication of the enforcement when dropping off their children Monday morning, as a Flowery Branch officer was parked near where the left-turn lane into the Falcons complex begins.

And as parents dropped off their children at the circular driveway in front of the school, a school employee handed them a flier stating "important changes to morning car-rider procedures."

The school flier states that motorists "blocking the intersection may be subject to a citation" and suggests that motorists avoid the left turn into Davis altogether by taking alternate routes.

Officials suggest that motorists traveling from the Spout Springs Road area continue on Spout Springs until reaching Thurmon Tanner Parkway. They then would turn right and head to Falcon Parkway, where they would turn right and head toward Davis.

From that direction, motorists would turn right into the school.

"While we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause," the flier states, "this new procedure will help make mornings safer for our community."

Car-rider parent Wanda Brown said the alternate route doesn’t work well for her because she is driving south on Falcon Parkway from the Martin Road area.

To start her alternate route, she would have to turn left from Falcon Parkway onto Hog Mountain Road, which is nearly in front of the school.

Brown said she has thought about cutting through Flowery Branch High School on Hog Mountain. Even her son has urged her to take that route, which has roads leading to Davis and Falcon Parkway.

She said she doesn’t want to do that "because of the speed bumps, for one thing, or (because of) the high school drivers."

Brown said she wouldn’t take her son to school "if there were just middle schoolers on the bus." Because the buses mix high school and middle school students, "none of my children are going to be on that bus."

"And they are so crowded — there’s three to a seat, some of them," she added. "... I think a lot of parents feel the same way."

Fueling the problem is South Hall’s growth, which has driven up higher enrollment numbers at Davis, which has portable classrooms filling an area behind the school.

And because Flowery Branch High also is feeling growth pains, the Hall County school district is working to open a new school on Spout Springs Road in fall 2009.

School officials are talking about next year housing students in sixth and seventh grades at Davis Middle, eighth and ninth grades at Flowery Branch High and 10th through 12th grades at the new school.

Davis now houses students in sixth through eighth grades.

"The realigning of the grades ... should go a long way in helping the situation at Davis," said Paula Dobbs, a school council member at Davis.

But she wonders about the impact of the new school on busy Spout Springs Road. Also, Spout Springs Elementary School sits close to the new school and has had traffic jams of its own.

"I will be a mom of not only one teen driver but two, and that is where I will be hoping a lot of attention will go to monitor traffic issues," Dobbs said.

Relief, Lanich suspects, may be just temporary anyway, as the county continues to grow.

"Being from Hall County, we know how long that (traffic break) will last," he said, with a laugh.



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