Woodsdale Parking Plan To Be Discussed by Wheeling Traffic Commission

Photo by Heather Ziegler Woodsdale Elementary School has adjusted its temporary plan for parking and student pick-up at the end of each day. Cars now are prohibited from lining up along the left side of Poplar Street and blocking the entrance to the Cobblestone Condominiums.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Traffic Commission this week will consider Woodsdale Elementary School’s temporary plan for street closures at dismissal time — a plan that has been tweaked following suggestions by school neighbors.

The commission meets at 2 p.m. Thursday in Wheeling City Council chambers at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., and principal Ashlea Minch said she will be there to make her presentation.

Since the start of the school year, school employees at 3:30 p.m. each day have been closing off the section of Poplar Street from Bethany Pike leading to the alley behind the school.

This procedure allows parents to form three lines of traffic on Poplar Street as they wait to turn onto the alley and pick up their children. School is dismissed at 3:45 p.m., and the traffic persists in the area until about 4 p.m., on average.

Until recently, the far left lane of traffic has blocked the entrance to the Cobblestone Condominiums at 4 Poplar St. Minch said the school received a letter from the condo association providing suggestions on how to improve the situation.

“We’ve listened to the community and neighbors, and we’ve made adjustments,” she said.

As a result, the area is kept clear and cars are no longer permitted to line up in the left lane and block the entrance, Minch said.

Residents living in a second apartment complex directly behind the school along the alley of traffic also have expressed concerns that they cannot get out of their parking area.

Minch said employees have been stopping the proceeding line of cars to permit the residents to pull out and get into the line to leave.

“It’s going incredibly fast now,” she said. “We dismiss at 3:45 p.m., and we’re getting them through in less than 15 minutes.”

There are 476 children enrolled at Woodsdale Elementary, and it previously was estimated that more than 100 of them get picked up each day.

But Minch said she sees the overall number of cars coming through as being reduced over the past two weeks.

“There are several car-pooling, and others are starting to ride the bus,” she said. “Others live within a close enough radius to walk, and they didn’t do that before.”

She expects the traffic commission will recommend the road closure plan be made permanent by Wheeling City Council.

“I hope so,” she said. “Ninety percent of parents like it. It is safer, and it has minimized the disruption in the surrounding areas.”

When Minch first presented the idea to the traffic commission for the daily closure of Poplar Street in early August, the commission did not have a quorum and did not act at that time. Members present, however, told her to go ahead and implement the plan on a temporary basis, make adjustments and report back to them at their September meeting.

Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday, who represents Woodsdale, said this move was in the perview of the commission.

“That’s what the traffic commission is for,” she said. “That’s why we have all the commissions. It’s a way of vetting requests and applications. We rely on the volunteers for all those commissions — not just the traffic commission.

“When they approve something, they are making a recommendation to council,” Scatterday said. “We rely on their work and detail.”

Scatterday said she has been in conversation with both the school and the neighbors about the situation. The goal is to keep the amount of road closure to no more than 20 minutes past school dismissal time.

“I have spoken with neighbors and parents, and it seems that period of time is acceptable,” she said. “(The plan) is something that needs to be considered.”

Scatterday said she has suggested to the school that they work to reduce the number of cars coming to the school each day, perhaps though encouraging car-pooling.

“There is a practicality there,” she said. “There are students who have after school appointments and commitments. That’s a lot of the functionality of it why folks aren’t using the bus. The timing of the bus isn’t meeting their after-school obligations.

“The paramount thing here is safety — safety for the students, for the residents, and for the folks traveling through that area,” she said. “We also have to ensure traffic doesn’t back up on W.Va. 88.”

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