BY Masooma Sultan
After a series of messy traffic jams getting into and out of C-wing lot, changes were made to this year’s original parking plan to close the front circle drive in the mornings and afternoons. Hoping to alleviate the crush of traffic it created on Warrior Way and Maine West Drive after school, the front circle entrance has been reopened solely for after school pick-up. It has yet to be decided if this revision will stay in place.
Surveying the situation,“We cannot have cars stopped in the front circle because that’s a fire lane,” principal Dr. Audrey Haugan said. “In previous years, we had parents coming to school as early as 2:30 p.m. and parking in front, up on the sidewalks, in the grass, and blocking the middle lane.”
Since the closure of circle drive, “We have seen some longer wait times for parents and students in getting out of the parking lot, so we decided to try and (re)open up the front circle. We are hoping the front circle keeps moving and that it takes some cars out of the back parking lots,” Haugan said.
Students felt the impact of the original plan almost immediately. “I thought it was very dangerous, and I almost was hit multiple times just trying to leave the parking lot. After school it takes longer to get out of school because there are so many cars in the back,” senior Amber Ward said.
The C-wing parking lot’s modifications were initially made to address complaints in previous years about the overcrowded traffic by students and staff members alike. The Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA) students worked alongside West’s architects and the district’s Building and Grounds personnel last year to design a drop off and pick up lane in C-wing parking lot.
Numbered parking spots were also added, as well as crosswalks and a middle lane between the drop-off/pick-up lane. With these changes, the front circle was initially blocked for traffic and only the C-wing lot and E-wing lot’s entrance was left open before and after school. This was created in an effort to reduce congestion, to address safety for all students, and overall, to create coming to and leaving from school more convenient, but that’s not entirely how it turned out.“The process was long. We had to first brainstorm ideas then after the engineers on this project came, we revised the ideas and presented the final ideas to the engineers again,” senior Milos Dugalic, member of the CEA class, explained.
After the revision of the ideas and the actions were put into play, the ultimate test was at the start of school—especially for the security guards regulating the traffic flow.
“At first, it seemed like an absolute nightmare since nobody knew where to go and how it worked. But, as the weeks are going by, the traffic is definitely getting better. I think some things could change—anything more to help communicate the lot’s expectations to parents and students—but it’s not too bad if students are driving responsibly and, ultimately, it’s a good test for them if they want to be treated like young adults,” security guard Mike Lopez said.
Because drivers and walkers are trying to move through the lot at the same time, “it is definitely more dangerous. Having both the front and the C-Wing lot’s entrances made getting to and leaving from school much easier for everyone since it wasn’t as crowded,” sophomore Colleen Nguyen said.