New Albany City Council has asked E.P. Ferris and Associates of Columbus to study problems on Swickard Woods Boulevard and Fodor Road, where vehicles enter and exit the New Albany K-1 elementary building and New Albany High School properties.
City Council on March 18 unanimously requested the engineering firm study the problems based on a report by Mayor Nancy Ferguson.
Ferguson said she spoke with Superintendent April Domine two weeks before the meeting about safety concerns on the two roads.
Right turns from New Albany High School on Fodor Road are limited during school hours. However, Ferguson said, drivers are turning right on Fodor during school hours, heading northwest and doing U-turns at the four-way stop at Swickard Woods Boulevard to travel southeast.
Ferguson said when kindergartners and first-graders are being picked up and dropped off, traffic on on Swickard Woods Boulevard backs up onto Fodor.
She said many parents park on Swickard Woods and in the lot for the Plain Township Aquatic Center to let their children out of the car. Children have to cross in front of several parked cars and pass through the bus loop to get to the school.
Ferguson said the New Albany-Plain Local School District had its own traffic study completed last spring that the city will forward to the engineering firm.
District spokesman Patrick Gallaway, who did not attend the City Council meeting, said the traffic study by Parsons Brinckerhoff redesigned the New Albany Middle School entrance on Dublin-Granville Road and drop-off and pick-up zones for the 2-5 elementary building entrances on Dublin-Granville Road and High Street. Improvements to those locations will begin in June, Gallaway said.
"We also used information collected to determine what additional options may exist for the high school student drop-off area to improve and increase queuing space (on Fodor Road) and to remove traffic from Dublin-Granville Road and Fodor (Road). Lastly, the Parsons study documented our existing reality at the K-1 building that includes car and bus stacking with the notation that while some options may exist, further study in this area would be required," Gallaway said in an email.
Gallaway said the district uses personnel to help children cross traffic safely on Swickard Woods Boulevard.
"There are times where it is beyond our control to make sure that all vehicles follow the procedures for drop-off. We try our best to assist and message out to our parents through our e-blasts and our building newsletters. This is something we will continue to do to remind parents of the process. Principal (Scott) Emery continues to be creative in ways to work with students and staff daily to keep kids safe and navigate the traffic issues," Gallaway said via email.
City Councilman Sloan Spalding asked Ferguson if the district is encouraging parents to let children ride buses to school.
Gallaway said the "safest place for students is on buses." He said the district plans next school year to encourage parents not to "drop off but allow their student to ride the bus, or hopefully soon, walk or bike to school if in proximity, given all the city improvements under way."
In other school-related business, New Albany City Council on March 18 unanimously agreed to accept funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to Schools program.
City Manager Joseph Stefanov said the city is receiving $316,000 to upgrade the school zones on Fodor and Dublin-Granville roads, improve traffic-control signs and install a leisure path on the north side of Dublin-Granville Road between Morgan and Fodor roads.
Engineer Joe Ridgeway of E.P. Ferris and Associates said the school zones are too large and need to be changed to match state law, which requires that school zones start and end within school boundaries.
He said the school zone on Dublin-Granville Road will be moved east from the entrance to the New Albany Church of the Resurrection to the intersection at Fodor Road and Market Street.
The school zone will be removed from Market Street south of Dublin-Granville and will begin on the north side of the intersection, on Fodor Road.
The school zone no longer will extend from Dublin-Granville Road on Fodor Road to the east side of the roundabout at New Albany Road East. Ridgeway said the zone will stop where Fodor Road curves in front of the New Albany High School football stadium.
Ridgeway said the New Albany K-1 elementary does not front on Fodor Road -- it faces Swickard Woods Boulevard -- so the school zone there will be eliminated.
Stefanov said speed-limit signs in the school zones would be replaced with signs that will flash during school hours and crossing signals at signalized intersections would be changed to include walking signs that flash a countdown of seconds remaining to cross.
Stefanov said there is no required match for the funds, so the city will not have to contribute to the project.