Before construction on a new elementary school in Bargersville wraps up in 2019, town officials want to make sure roads and intersections near the school are prepared to handle additional traffic.
Walnut Grove Elementary School, which is being constructed south of County Road 144 between Morgantown Road and County Road 450W, will have room for up to 850 students, creating new challenges for drivers in the area during morning drop-off and afternoon pickup.
One of the requirements the town had for Center Grove schools was to pay for a study on how additional traffic from parents and buses would impact nearby roads, such as where County Road 144 intersects with Morgantown Road and County Road 450W. Center Grove is also required to contribute funding to road improvements based on the impact of the new school, said Bargersville Town Council vice president Ken Zumstein.
A big concern is at the intersection of Morgantown Road and County Road 144 — currently a four-way stop sign — where officials are worried about traffic back-ups from parents who will use Morgantown Road as the primary route to get to the new elementary school, Zumstein said.
Last month, the town council approved spending $125,000 to buy a two-acre property on the southeast corner of County Road 144 and Morgantown Road. Having that property gives the town room for stoplights and additional turn lanes, which will almost certainly be needed before the school is built, Zumstein.
While the traffic study isn’t complete, and the town hasn’t made a decision on what improvements will be needed at the intersection, officials chose to purchase the land because the property was already listed for sale. That will allow the town to make future improvements without needing to force anyone to give up part of their property, he said.
Zumstein would like to have a roundabout at that intersection, but the town would need to purchase additional land and likely get federal funding to afford what would be a much more expensive project, he said.
The town is also working to resolve traffic issues that have plagued Maple Grove Elementary School, south of Whiteland Road and west of State Road 135. When parents are picking up and dropping off children, vehicles are backing up onto Whiteland Road, causing traffic issues drivers have complained about for years.
One step the school recently took to address the issue was to divert some buses to another entrance, freeing up more room for parents’ vehicles, superintendent Richard Arkanoff said.
Other solutions could be more costly.
The town is looking into the cost of paving a section of the grass median on Whiteland Road so that drivers could go around vehicles backed up and waiting to turn into the school, Zumstein said.
However, that project could cost as much as $90,000, and town officials are undecided about how they want to move forward, he said.
“The bottom line is it is a safety issue with parents and kids,” Zumstein said. “I don’t want someone to get hurt in an accident.”