McGrath Elementary School's current vehicle entrance and exit, looking east from St. Clair Avenue. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

McGrath Elementary School’s current vehicle entrance and exit, looking west toward St. Clair Avenue. Cones will block the entrance (left) during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up as vehicles enter the property from High School Drive and continue west to the exit (right). (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Cars to enter from High School Drive, exit at St. Clair Avenue

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

McGrath Elementary School students who travel to and from school by car, and walkers who live northeast of the building, will take a different route starting as early as this fall.

The Brentwood Board of Aldermen on Monday unanimously approved a site plan for the school district to build a drive aisle and sidewalk to connect High School Drive with McGrath’s parking lot and front entrance. The one-way aisle will route drivers from High School Drive west along the northern edge of the property and through the parking lot for drop-off and pickup. They will then exit onto St. Clair Avenue.

Currently drivers both enter and exit the parking lot at St. Clair.

“The fact that all the cars entered and exited in the same place is what caused the traffic jam on St. Clair,” said Superintendent of Schools David Faulkner.

Brentwood Superintendent of Schools David Faulkner addresses the Board of Aldermen on June 20 at City Hall.

Brentwood Superintendent of Schools David Faulkner addresses the Board of Aldermen on June 20 at City Hall.

More students being driven

Board of Education President Keith Rabenberg told the aldermen that the congestion has gradually increased through the years as more and more students have been driven to and from school.

Faulkner added, “We’ve had complaints for a long time,” but the district hasn’t been able to afford such a project. “But we’ve received a large amount of tuition money from some of the unaccredited transfer districts … and I thought this was a prudent time to make this improvement to the property.”

The construction required approval from the city because it involves curb cuts on High School Drive. It will be funded by the Brentwood School District.

The next step is for the school district is to create and post a bid package for the project.

“Our intention is to bring the bids to the Board of Education when they meet again in August,” Faulkner told the Brentwood Spirit. “I understand that it is somewhat late in the season for seeking new asphalt work, so the timeline for the project is dependent upon the availability of the service provider. We estimate that the project will take four to six weeks to complete once it is started.”

Said Board of Education President Keith Rabenberg,

Board of Education President Keith Rabenberg, who lives on St. Clair Avenue, said the congestion on that street has increased as more and more parents have driven their children to and from the school.

More traffic on High School Dr., less on St. Clair Ave.

It is estimated that the project will increase traffic on High School Drive by about 120 vehicles in both the morning and the afternoon, said Assistant City Administrator Lisa Koerkenmeier. Mayor Chris Thornton said the drive aisle will hold about 35 vehicles, thus minimizing any “stacking” that might occur on High School Drive during peak pick-up and drop-off times.

“In some respects you’re trading traffic on St. Clair, which is ill-equipped to handle it, to traffic on High School Drive, which is better equipped to handle it,” said Thornton, “and you’re allowing the stacking that currently occurs on St. Clair out into Litzsinger Road to be stacked on the eastern part of the [school] property.”

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Looking east toward High School Drive along the northern edge of McGrath’s property. A gaited driveway used by school district maintenance personnel runs along part of the path for the proposed drive aisle.

Fence between students and drive aisle

A sidewalk will be built along the south side of the drive aisle for those who walk to and from school along High School Drive. A gaited fence will separate the aisle from the sidewalk and McGrath’s playground. Adult crossing guards will be stationed at the new High School Drive entrance for both McGrath students and students from the middle school and high school.

The Brentwood Planning and Zoning Commission approved the site development after recommending that the sidewalk be added.

McGrath has about 220 students.

McGrath opened in 1957 and has about 220 students.