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Commissioners aim to ease traffic problems at Mount Vernon Exploratory School
School officials say issues mostly resolved
The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously March 24 to extend a left-turn lane on Jim Hood Road to the entrance of Mount Vernon Exploratory School.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners wants changes in the traffic flow at Mount Vernon Exploratory School, but county school officials believe most of the problems have been resolved.

The commission voted unanimously March 24 to extend a left-turn lane on Jim Hood Road to the school entrance.

That would require between 200 and 300 feet of additional turn lane, said Ken Rearden, Hall County public works director.

Rearden said he did not have plans yet or a cost estimate from the design engineers.

However, he said he hopes to have that information ready for the April 25 commission work session.

The longer turn lane would be in addition to a proposal for left-turn and right-turn lanes near Odum-Smallwood Road, a proposal with an estimated cost of $621,000.

Rearden said “we’ve kind of run it by” school officials, and he believes the issue will be resolved. He said he did not know yet if additional right of way access would be required across the road from the school. He told commissioners in March it was likely.

Commissioner Billy Powell said the turn lane extension would alleviate some traffic at the beginning and end of the school day.

“At all our schools, we have traffic issues when dropping off and picking up,” Powell said. “But that school in particular is just bursting at the seams and has a huge rider population.”

As of Friday, county and school officials had not discussed the issue in detail.

Matt Cox, Hall schools’ executive director for facilities, said he is aware of the proposal about the Odum-Smallwood and Jim Hood intersection.

“They’ve told me that they’re moving toward that project,” he said.

He added he has not seen a plan.

“We’re going to meet at some point in the near future,” Cox said.

Commissioner Scott Gibbs called the traffic situation at Mount Vernon a “disaster” and said the school district should help with the solution because it caused the traffic problems.

He said since Mount Vernon was built, “the standards have changed to where the schools have to take care of some of this.”

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said the school district added a “queue” for parent traffic behind the school about two years ago.

Before that, he said, it was a “nightmarish traffic situation,” but added that “there just aren’t that many issues out there anymore.”

Cox added, “To my knowledge and to the principal’s knowledge, and she’s there every day, everything’s been much improved since we did our improvements a couple of years ago.”

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