Gilbert Public Schools: Traffic Safety, PSHAW!

Westie again yields the blog to residents of the Gilbert Junior High School community. The topic is traffic safety, or lack thereof, associated with giving the campus of Gilbert Junior High School to Gilbert Classical Academy, a 7-12 specialty school whose population is very pompous about their privileged place in the hierarchy of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board and administration. Westie would like to say that parents of GCA students seem to be arrogant, but we defer to the fact that no one can match the arrogance we’ve all experienced from GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.  Click here for Traffic Concerns #1.

First, let’s watch a video that shows exactly what the traffic safety situation is now. A text narrative from the person driving the car appears below the Youtube video:

You cannot appreciate the problem until you actually see it.  I pulled out my phone and recorded on a whim; it was not planned and it showed every single thing I have a problem with regarding safety around here. There was a line of cars behind me trying to get a spot at the curb to pick up their kids. It is insane and the Town and district’s flippant attitude makes me think they did not do a field observation like they said they would. Traffic counts are one thing, but actually witnessing the problems first hand would be another.

Notice the kid who tries to cross as I am going through the intersection. He was not paying attention AT ALL to the crossing guard and decided he wanted to cross even though it wasn’t his turn. What this video failed to show was the car that almost hit me then swerved around me on my right side because I was stopped to let the kid cross in front of the cul de sac.

Over the years we had some tense moments at the 4 way stop sign as many drivers seem to forget or disregard the fact they are supposed to yield to pedestrians in a cross walk at Burk Street and Houston Avenue. In the race to get through the 4 way stop, many drivers don’t even notice pedestrians on the corners attempting to cross the street. The crossing guards that are at the 4 way stop sign at school drop off and pick up times could probably attest to at least one near miss a day. If someone needs to cross outside of the times when there are crossing guards or in the evening or morning when it is dark, they are literally taking their lives into their own hands.

I want to detail a few of the traffic and safety issues I encounter on an almost daily basis. My main concern is that if we already have these issues, what is it going to look like with the increased traffic that a larger school like GCA will bring.

If GCA moves into the Gilbert Junior High School campus it will no longer be a walking school. Its students will have to be bused, driven by parents, or the most concerning to me, drive themselves. Additionally, there will be increased bus and parent traffic because the neighborhood students that were displaced from GJHS will have to go to another school that is not within walking distance. At the same time, Houston Elementary will remain a walking school, so those young children who walk to and from Houston will have to pay the consequences for the havoc that it will wreak on the roadways in this neighborhood.

• Many drivers disregard the posted speed limits, especially on Houston Ave. Almost every single time I drive down Houston I am tailgated by someone who thinks I should be going faster. Yesterday, as I attempted to turn right into my cul de sac I was almost rear ended by a driver who was following too close. I had to come to a complete stop before turning because there were students crossing the small street at the entrance to the cul de sac. There are no crossing guards at these entrances so children must cross on their own and hope that drivers notice them and stop to let them cross.

• The bike lanes on Burk have clearly posted signs forbidding parking or stopping but, because Gilbert Junior High School has very little in the way of a parent drop off lane and that drop off lane gets congested with traffic, cars and buses alike, they stop and let their children out of the car in the bike lane. It creates a very unsafe situation for the students and the other cars on the road.

• When traffic backs up at the four way stop sign, drivers on Houston like to create their own right hand turn lane. The street is just wide enough so that they can squeeze in next to the cars that are already waiting at the stop sign. I have seen drivers fly into that space with their tires inches from the curb where a group of students are standing waiting to cross. I have seen two cars jockeying for position to turn right when really only one should be there. I have also almost been t-boned turning left into my cul de sac from Houston because a courteous driver gave me a break to turn in, but an unsafe driver decided to make a turn lane where there wasn’t one and I could not see them and they could not see me and we came mere inches from colliding.

• Many parents, to avoid having to deal with the four way stop and school zones will use the cul de sacs as their own pick up and drop off points. Because they are in a hurry they often pull in at speeds that are not reasonable, whip around the cul de sac and come to a screeching halt at the stop sign. Their kids jump out and they go on their way, often not even noticing or stopping for the walkers who are trying to cross the roads at the end of the cul de sacs.

I understand that the Town of Gilbert does not have a vote and that they do not control what the GPS Governing Board decides. The Town of Gilbert, however, has responsibility over the streets, roadways and safety of our neighborhoods. To my knowledge, GPS has not requested or performed on its own a traffic study that will look at the impact of their decision on the neighborhood residents and their safety.

I know the decision has not been made to close Gilbert Junior High School, but it is, in many people’s minds, the most viable option. Waiting until after the decision is made to even study or address these concerns would be irresponsible, as the safety issues a move like this would create should be factored into any decision. The negative impact on the safety of the children and residents of this area cannot be understated — the potential decision to repurpose Gilbert Junior High School as Gilbert Classical Academy is far more dangerous than town or district officials will admit.

Hey, Governing Board: the community does not support closing a school. Any school. Your own data shows growth, not decline. 


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