School begins soon and, with a new school year, comes more morning and afternoon traffic.
According to U.S. Census information, about 55,000 people commute either into or out of Williamson County every day.When school starts, the number of people on the road nearly doubles, with 45,472 students enrolled in the 74 schools, public and private, in Williamson County for the upcoming school year. Williamson County Schools has 44 schools this year- its three newest opening in Nolensville- and 38,100 students. Franklin Special School District has eight schools and 3,850 students. And there are additionally 23 private schools with a total of 3,522 students, calculates Private School Review.
“We don’t really have a traffic problem in the summer, it is just when school starts that congestion gets bad,” Matt Largen, Williamson, Inc. CEO said.
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson also said that while local government does its best to keep road capacity’s pace even with population growth, without behavior changes, such as carpooling, traffic will remain a fact of life, as well as government behavior changes.
“There is no one single common denominator that will fix traffic woes,” he said. “Government has got to do its part by looking at signals, intersections, adding more lanes where we can, that is a behavior by government. For 25 years the solution was build more roads, You can do that but you also have to have better planning, too. It is very hard to get ahead of the curve with traffic, especially as our population keeps growing.”
With 50,000 students transported- by bus or by parents or, for some high school students, by themselves- during peak commute time, conditions will return to their normal- meaning congested- levels starting on Friday.
With the opening of the new Nolensville High, Mill Creek Middle and Mill Creek Elementary schools, Nolensville will be dealing with new school traffic.
“We will see traffic on York Road and Nolensville Road like we never have before,” said Troy Huffines, Chief of Police for Nolensville. “We will have crossing guards at every intersection we possibly can near the schools.”
He also said that they will have Sheriffs Deputies and NPD officers stationed to help control traffic safely at Nolensville Road and Clovercroft Road where they intersect with entrances to the Summerlyn subdivision, where a lot of the school traffic will be coming and going from. They will have public works vehicles slowing traffic down for safety in the school zone.
“We flashed the new school zone signs all day today to get people used to it,” he said. “Not necessarily for residents but for cut-throughs- we get a lot of Rutherford County traffic. Also we will have public works vehicles observing around York Road,” he said.
A traffic light at the intersection of Nolensville Road and Summerlyn Drive also went online on Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the first time.
“The Sheriff in conjunction with the NPD will handle traffic at least on Friday,” he said. “On York Road the school zone of 15 miles per hour will be in effect pretty much continuously from 7:10 a.m. until after 11 a.m., since it is a half day. After that it will run for almost three hours starting 7:10 a.m.”
The school zone may be shortened, he said, as they adjust to traffic. Any non-school traffic should use a route that avoids York Road, Huffines advised.
“It is really more congestion than anything else, that we deal with,” said Tommy Walsh, Chief of Brentwood Police. “You have kids crossing the street in some areas, like by Crockett Road.”
He said traffic is at its worst in the morning. The BPD will run school zone lights at all the schools, with a 15 mile per hour speed limit.
“We will be out there Friday morning and at least the first part of next week so motorists will see our officers, and that will hopefully have a deterrent effect on speeding,” Walsh said. “We are aiming for a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, with an emphasis on ‘safe.'”
“We try to do that at the beginning of the year to set that tone, and follow up throughout the year and address where we have any problems,” he said. “We do monitor speed obviously but at peak times where most vehicles are there is just not much opportunity for too many cars to get up any kind of speed. The biggest complaint is congestion- Crockett Road will probably be the worst, but by Brentwood High and Brentwood Middle we have had it back up pretty well in the morning, especially.”
“We have not changed from last year,” said Spring Hill Police Public Information Officer Lieutenant Justin Whitwell. “Our biggest problem is having more schools than officers in the street. We have to swap up and every now and then go to certain school zones to be more present to deter speeding. Traffic is going to pick up for sure during school, and some people will just have to re-route ways to work or just wait in the school zones.
“My biggest recommendation would be to have patience and do not speed through the school zones,” he said. “Be vigilant and aware of the children that actually walk to school, and those that will be walking and crossing in the school zone and in front of buses getting dropped off.”
Starting tomorrow, all Franklin school zones will be active as Williamson County and Franklin Special School District students attend their first day of the new school year. Officers will be vigilant in designated school zones across the city, focusing on speeding drivers, improper passing, and texting and driving.
“According to statistics, most of the children killed in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, four to seven years old, who are hit by drivers illegally passing a stopped school bus,” FPD Lt. Charles Warner wrote in a press release. “Officers across the city will be closely monitoring bus routes and citing drivers who disregard bus’ flashing red lights and stop signs.”
Motorists should anticipate slow-moving traffic in and around school zones, he also wrote. To avoid being late to your destination, you should leave earlier than usual. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about safely crossing the street and walking through parking lots.