Closure sought for ramp to MES

Friday, November 6, 2009

Marshall County schools' transportation supervisor is asking Lewisburg to close part of a long right turn ramp off Tiger Boulevard that leads onto the driveway of Marshall Elementary School.

Transportation Supervisor Michael Frey's request is to be considered by the City Council when it meets on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in City Hall. Children's safety when boarding or leaving a school bus is why Frey made the request.

"It is unlawful and unsafe for children to cross over two lanes to load and unload on a school bus," Frey wrote last month to City Manager Eddie Fuller who's prepared a couple of maps for the Council to review while considering Frey's request.

Children who live at the Cedar Hills Apartment complex have a bus stop across the street from Village Manor, according to the map. The school bus stops in what might otherwise look like the center lane of a three-lane street, but there's a long exit ramp leading to Marshall Elementary School.

"I am requesting that the three-lane road on Tiger Boulevard, starting at Cedar Hills Apartments, be reduced back to a two-lane road," Frey wrote after a Sept. 8 meeting he had with Fuller.

The city manager's map labels the exit ramp as a "right turn only stacking lane" that's used by parents dropping off and picking up students at MES.

The pavement where parents' vehicles wait out of the lane for through traffic on the road, alternately known as Marcus Haislip Boulevard, starts on the Luna family's property just across the street from Westvue Church of Christ.

Another map prepared by Fuller for the Council shows that if Frey's request is granted, then nearly half of the exit ramp/waiting area would be closed, according to the map.

Frey's request will be considered by a panel led by Mayor Barbara Woods, a former principal at MES.

"I worked real hard to get it," Woods said Thursday. "It took quite a bit of time to get it.... Bus drivers were working with me because bus drivers would be trapped in that lane of traffic.

"West Commerce Street presented the same problem," she said of another bus stop location that was solved by having two bus stops served by a bus that would stop in both places to open its door to the curb instead of in the middle of the street.

"I felt that the problem could be solved that way, but I'm not out there," Woods said, conceding that perhaps the current staff "would know better... It's been seven or eight years since I've been at MES... It was the high school when we got the lane, not Lewisburg Middle School."

Fuller has observed the situation at least twice and says he's seen motorists arrive 10-15 minutes before the school day ends. At those times, the city manager has seen that "traffic in this lane is backed up almost to the Mooresville Road," he said.

"Deleting part of the stacking lane might create a traffic nightmare," Fuller said.

That would result if motorists waited in the northbound lane, or start parking elsewhere, he explained.

Another solution that's been mentioned to Fuller is to re-route the bus so that it's south bound on the boulevard, he said. That would place the bus door facing the apartment complex and the children wouldn't have to cross one lane of traffic and board a bus that might be seen as in the center land of a three-lane road.

That solution, however, "will require some re-routing by the transportation supervisor," Fuller said.

Another item of new business facing the Council is an offer from Ernest Henegar Jr. of Hull Avenue who co-owns a 0.37-acre tract of land with his brother, Joe. The land is on the south side of the Veterans of Foreign Wars building at 148 East Church St.

It's where "the VFW planted some trees" several years ago, Ernest Henegar said Tuesday evening. "We tried to give it to them three to four years ago."

Joe Henegar spoke with VFW leaders "and they never got back in touch,"

Ernest Henegar said. "They were the first people we wanted to donate to. We gave it a year and then just decided to hold on to it."

"You can't put a building on it because there are too many utilities'" rights of way with pipes and wires, he said. "They've got gas lines, water, electric and sewer lines running all over the property...

"I never thought about donating it to the Gas Department, but that's an agency of the city. If the city wants to give it to them, that's fine. Back in the early 1950s, there were a couple of lots sold to the Gas Department for the pumping station.

"At one time we owned a 25 by 50-foot lot," Henegar said.

He agreed that the lot his family has owned "since 1945 or '50" could become a place for recycling, but he'd not thought of that option.

"The city's been good to us and we've enjoyed living here," said Henegar, 69.