Traffic snarls Tahoe-area school zones

It's that time of year again. Not only school has resumed, but the traffic that goes along with it has created a frustrating mess for parents and their children - a mess that could become dangerous.

Anyone who's driving in Incline Village at about 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or near 9 a.m. would do well to steer clear of Southwood Boulevard between its intersections with Tahoe and Mays boulevards.

"It's 15 minutes of complete chaos," Harry Haaser, Incline Elementary School principal said.

Wednesday, Haaser was guiding students and parents across the Southwood Boulevard - and when he wasn't stopping traffic to let people cross the street, he counted cars as they passed by.

Haaser counts the cars to see how many vehicles stop by the school as well as to see how many cars just pass by.

His tally Wednesday showed that 125 cars passed by the IES campus that didn't have any business at the school.

That many vehicles just adds to the congestion in front of his school for 15 minutes every day, he added.

The 25 or 30 cars that enter the school's circular driveway could make a faster and safer getaway if local drivers used alternate routes at that time of day, Haaser explained.

Wednesday afternoons are among the worse, said one mother, because of the church-related classes that children attend. One parent commented that she didn't understand why some people park along the road.

Yet some parents, such as Diane Brandt, pick up their children every day.

"I was very unhappy when the man in charge of buses shouted at everyone to get out of the road," she said.

She said she understood his plight, that the buses need room to get through, but he could have been more polite about it.

Lisa Pillsbury, another parent who was picking up her child for an appointment, expressed her frustration about traffic in front of the school.

"So many people I know pick up their kids all the time and I don't understand it. Who wants to deal with this?" she asked.

Haaser said he's out directing traffic every day. He and a teacher wearing a dayglow vest try to keep things under control.

"Considering how bad it is, they do a really good job of keeping the kids safe," said Diane Durgan, who began waiting in front of the campus 15 minutes before school got out.

Haaser said there've been many instances of fender-bender traffic accidents in front of the the campus along Southwood Boulevard when school lets out in the afternoon.

The traffic problems become worse during the winter when cars come down the street too fast and motorists end up stepping on their brakes too hard, he added.

There are 15 mph speed zones on every street near the IES campus, as well as the high school on Village Boulevard, and the middle School on Incline Way.

Amber-colored warning lights flash at points before vehicles reach the campus when school begins and when school gets out.

Like the elementary school, the high school has blinking amber lights during times when traffic needs to move slowly.

The lights near the high school campus on Village Boulevard begin blinking before 8 a.m. and before 2:15 p.m., warning motorists of the crush of students leaving campus

The streets adjacent to the middle school have no stop lights or warning lights, which has become a concern for many educators and parents.


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