California R-1 high school battles traffic concerns

Posted on 5 October 2017 at 6:11am

CALIFORNIA, Mo - When school gets out at the California R-1 high school, the parking lot is packed with student drivers and buses leaving. There are only two exits from the lot, causing even more backups than normal.

Mike Schupp, MoDOT area engineer for Moniteau County, said the crowding can make leaving the lot difficult.

"Right now buses are conflicting with pedestrians and students trying to get to their cars," Schupp said. "And they've noticed that with heavily attended events like football games, they're experiencing some traffic delays getting people out of the parking lots."

Currently, buses load and unload at the front of the school. The plan is to find a way to have buses load and unload behind the school, away from the parking lot for student drivers.

The school district had planned to convert an access road leading to the water tower behind the school into an additional exit. The gravel road is currently only allowed for people who have a limited use permit from MoDOT. 

"That road is for city officials to make sure everything is working with the water tower," Schupp said. "It was not intended for routine, everyday bus routes. We wouldn't want buses using that road day in and day out without some improvements made."

The city has barricaded the connecting road from the school to the gravel access road.

The two remaining entrances to the high school are full access, meaning a car can turn both directions going out, and cars can turn in the lot as well. 

Schupp said MoDOT believes it can help the school internally solve the problem and add an additional entrance, but with certain conditions.

"We talked it over and we can add a third entrance across the street from Orschelns, but if we do, we really want the west entrance to be a right in, right out lane," Schupp said. "If you're wanting to turn left into that entrance, there's no turn lane. Traffic has to stop and wait for you to turn. If it's right in, right out, you can only turn right into the lot and make a right turn out of that lot. That will eliminate the conflicting movements."

The entrances to the school are all on Business 50 West, where the speed limit is 45 mph.

"The 45 mile an hour speed limit isn't the problem, necessarily," Schupp said. "What we have is an issue that's occurring at low speeds. We've got buses that are barely pulling out or moving slowly with pedestrians. We don't want to move a problem area to 50 highway where traffic is going 45 and make it a more severe problem."

The additional entrance would cost several thousand dollars, but Schupp said doing the project internally will save the school district money.

"Right now, we've just looked if it's possible and it is," Schupp said. "I think the school is looking to possibly do a bond issue in the future. But before it gets to that, we would really like to sit down with the school board and the director of transportation and see if we can work out a plan where it doesn't cost the school district a bunch of money if it isn't necessary."

The superintendent of the district was unavailable for comment.