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School driveway issue on hiatus

School driveway issue on hiatus

October 1st, 2017 by David Wilson in Local News

California High School

Photo by David Wilson /News Tribune.

Safety and timeliness issues are causing the California School District to review the traffic problems at the high school on Business 50 West.

The remedy originally proposed, apparently did not meet the approval of Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

"We want what is best for the city and the school," said MoDOT employee Patrick Skain.

The possibility was discussed with the California Board of Aldermen Aug. 7 of making use of the west-end water tower service road for a school bus exit. That would require buses to load and unload behind the school on the south parking lot. In anticipation of this, a connector has been constructed between the service road and a gate installed to prevent unauthorized use of the road.

If this change was made, the exit onto Business 50 West, would then be at the very west edge of the city limits.

"This potentially moves a safety concern from the school property to the highway," Skain said. He commented that it might solve the school's internal traffic problem, but would take on the highway to the point where the 45 mph zone begins.

That brings an additional concern for safety of students and drivers. Currently, the buses load and unload in front of the school at the south edge of the north parking lot. The buses, once loaded, then must deal with traffic issues to leave the loading areas, and cross the student and staff traffic from the rear and side parking lots on the south and east of the school.

In the afternoons, because of the student traffic issue, the buses are sometimes as much as 20 minutes late arriving at the middle school to pick up those students after school.

The service road in question is at the very edge of the west California city limits. It was originally approved by MoDOT as a service road, with infrequent traffic.

That approval was given only after the farm road to a barn, which was outside the city limits on private property, was closed and that driveway removed. Access to the property, formerly reached via the farm road, is now via the service road.

The single-lane, gravel water tower service road is not built to be used as a city street. If the service road/driveway is used for the buses to travel morning and evening, Mayor Norris Gerhart said that would make it a city street. As such, it should be brought up to the standards of a city street.

That would require it to be widened to two lanes, enough to accommodate school buses, and brought up to standards with a good base and asphalt overlay. This would require time and money for engineering and construction. The service road was originally permitted by a "Memorandum of Understanding" signed by the mayor, the school superintendent and the school board president. This document, signed April 21, 2014, authorized the conveyance of sufficient land to allow the building of the water tower and a service road to build and maintain the tower.

The city already owned a plot of ground where the tower was built. The document more than doubled the amount of land for building the water tower, while conveying to the school district the dedicated roadway extension of Hillcrest Road through school property. It was also agreed that the city relocate the water line and all other city utilities from the former platted Hillcrest Road to an area south of school property. This work has been done, the water tower built and the service road put into use as originally agreed. Since that, time the school has constructed new baseball field. The field is on part of that former road plat.