Possible school parking lot project discussed

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Concerns about crowded after-school parking outside of Martin Middle School have led to plans for a new parking lot at the Valley Grande school.

Dallas County Superintendent of Education Don Willingham said a new parking lot area would reduce the congested traffic that builds up outside of the school every school day around 2:15 p.m.

Willingham suggested the Dallas County school board pursue paving a new parking lot to eliminate hectic traffic that causes issues for Valley Grande Elementary principal Erika Crum and Martin Middle School principal Queen Morrow.

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“If the parking lot was there, it would get people off the roads and give Dr. Morrow and Erika at least another option on how to manage traffic once they are off the road,” Willingham said. “It may not be perfect, but we just have an odd mix of bus drivers and car riders here.”

Willingham said they are considering following through with their original plans to transform the grass area in front of their latest gym into a parking lot.

Willingham estimated the project to cost between $50,000 and $55,000.

Willingham said he would like construction to begin in the summer to avoid causing more traffic to build up during the school year.

“We need to get it in the works, so they can start as soon as school gets out,” school board member Peggy Williamson said.

The new parking lot would reduce a lot of issues heavy after school traffic has caused.

Other efforts to reduce traffic have only lead to more problems.

A blockade was placed across the entrances of the school parking lot so people would not park on school grounds until 2:30 p.m., and soon officials realized that only caused more problems as parents of Martin Middle School students began to park in the road and at Valley Grande Elementary School.

The cost of this project is worth the end result, Willingham said.

“We need to pursue it and talk to all the stakeholders,” Willingham said. “I think it’s going to be a long-term use of our dollar.”