By Jessie Wagoner
McPHERSON—In seven weeks, voters will determine if the proposed $112.8 million bond being put forth by USD-418 will pass or not. Due to concerns raised about the potential traffic congestion the proposal could lead to, the district is now conducting a traffic study.
“We heard loud and clear from you all that traffic was something that was important to make sure we get as much information as we can,” Shiloh Vincent, superintendent, said during the USD-418 board meeting.
Kevin Greischer with DLR Group explained their civil engineers have partnered with a traffic engineer to determine the boundaries of the traffic study. They identified key areas around the high school where they will be taking traffic counts for a week.
“They will get a baseline of what exists now, and then they will project that using national traffic studies that give them numbers for numbers of cars in a location like a high school,” Greischer said. “Then they will be making recommendations based on that.”
Greischer said some options that could be recommended are deceleration lanes or turning lanes. Other options include widening of roads and adding traffic signals.
The study will also help to determine how much queuing is needed for vehicles at the site. The goal of queuing is to get vehicles off the road and onto the site as quickly as possible so traffic doesn’t back up. The middle school will need more queuing than the high school, as more middle school students are transported to and from school by their parents or caregivers.
The traffic study will give the district a better idea of the number of vehicles that will be traveling in the area utilizing current traffic trends. However, it does not address potential problem areas which could arise as parents attempt to save time during pick up and drop off.
To avoid congestion at the main entrances, some have suggested it would be easier for parents to drop their children off near The Cedars and have them walk the remainder of the way to the middle school site. If vehicles utilized Darlow Dr. and Maxwell St., they could quickly drop their students off without having to utilize First St., which would likely be more congested. There is no way for the traffic study to predict how much of an increase in traffic The Cedars would receive, making it an unknown variable until after construction has occurred.
If the results of the study recommend street widening, addition of turning lanes or other changes to the roadways, the expense of those changes will be included in the proposed $112.8 million bond. The more money spent on traffic and streets means less money to be spent on other aspects of the bond. The district has not stated how much money has been allocated for infrastructure, like roads, so it is not clear how much it could impact the current proposal.
Greischer says he is hopeful the traffic study will be completed about three weeks before the election to give people time to consider the information. The bond election is scheduled for June 8.
Important bond dates to remember:
- May 4 and May 6: Open house from 6 to 8 p.m. ,with optional tours at McPherson High School. Representatives from DLR and Hutton Construction will join USD-418 staff members to answer questions.
- May 11: Online Zoom meeting from 12 to 1 p.m.
- May 14: Open house at the Community Building from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in coordination with All Schools Day. Representatives will be available to answer questions.
- May 18: Last day to register to vote.
- May 19: Early voting begins at the McPherson County Courthouse.
- June 8: Election Day. All registered voters living within the boundaries of McPherson Public Schools are eligible to vote on the proposed bond.