Members of the Monett R-1 Board of Education accepted the report, prepared by Olsson and Associates, during the board's October meeting. Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann said board member will study the details.
The study was a joint effort by the Monett R-1 School District and the City of Monett.
According to the study, Ninth Street sees peak hour traffic during the morning and late afternoon. Student traffic at the same time has created an increasing safety hazard. Following a site visit and discussions with Jungmann, Olsson proposed three alternatives to reduce problems.
The parking lot north of the school is restricted to teacher parking. Buses use the lot in the afternoon, exiting the lot using the signal at Ninth and Cleveland.
Ninth Street has four crosswalks between Cleveland and Scott Street one block south. The northern crosswalk to the parking lot is not for student use, and the crosswalk at Scott Street is not striped. Signs direct motorists to stop for children in the crosswalks.
Buses load on Ninth Street and proceed west down Scott. Students are also let off at Ninth and Scott by the E.E. Camp Gymnasium in the morning. Other buses leaving the Monett Intermediate School to the east turn north on Ninth Street at Scott.
Parents also continually stop along Ninth Street to let students off. Throughout the day, hundreds of student cross Ninth Street.
"Though there is heavy congestion during the morning hours, the roadway network appeared to operate fairly efficiently, though there was heavy vehicle-pedestrian interaction," the report said.
In the late afternoon, the situation becomes more complex with parents parking along Ninth Street to pick up students. At times, cars are backed up from Scott to the signal at Cleveland, and when cars become stacked on both sides of the street, the report said many cars navigate the center of the street as a shared through lane.
According to Jungmann and field observations, speeding along Ninth Street is not a prevalent issue. Concerns were raised about speed near high pedestrian movement areas.
Olsson identified several traditional strategies to calm traffic movement: speed humps; chicanes or serpentine roadways; center island/pedestrian refuges; chokers that narrow the roadway; closing the road; and switching to one-way traffic.
Other options Olsson suggested for consideration include:
* Consolidating crosswalks.
* Erecting man-made or vegetative pedestrian barriers to prevent pedestrians from crossing at undesirable locations.
* Rerouting bus traffic to separate it from cars.
* Changing drop-off and pick-up zones to reduce the need to cross Ninth Street.
* Posting no drop-off zones that the Monett Police Department would enforce.
* Closing or moving the parking lot driveway at Ninth Street by the Cleveland intersection.
* Creating a larger westbound right turn radius at Ninth Street and Scott, which would require moving a fire hydrant, the roof drain outlet and a stop sign.
Four safety proposals
Olsson developed four alternatives with the primary focus on safety. Any combination of proposals was also seen as potential improvements.
1) Constructing a median. The narrowed road would prevent parking along Ninth Street and slow traffic, creating a barrier to consolidate pedestrian traffic and creating pedestrian refuges. Middle school exits facing Ninth Street could be improved at the same time, addressing longstanding accessibility issues. A covered area could be created to protect students from inclement weather while waiting for a ride. Police enforcement of no parking would be key to the strategy. Cost was estimated at $30,800.
2) Constructing a median to narrow traffic on Ninth Street. In addition, the middle school courtyard could be replaced with a circular loop road for drop-offs and pick-ups. Cost was estimated at $77,200.
3) Converting Ninth Street into a one-way street northbound with a striped median. An additional parking lane could be added for pick-up and drop-offs. The signal at Cleveland would have to be modified accordingly in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation. Cost was estimated at $39,800.
4) Constructing a median and expanding the northern parking lot with a loop road for drop-off and pick-ups. Engineers warned that this option involved combining buses and parent vehicles, which could prove problematic. A scheduling shift to coordinate with dismissal at the intermediate school may also be needed. Cost was estimated at $89,600.
"Educating the students, parents and community about driving concerns and operational policies will help increase safety and improve congestion," the study concluded.
Future planning at the school will have to be considered in developing a solution, the report said. Jungmann told engineers that expansion of the Monett Middle School will likely involve connecting the existing buildings.
"Construction of a future facility may be more appropriate in the existing teacher-only parking lot location as well as in the front eastern courtyard of the middle school," the report said. "Then, the southern buildings could be demolished in lieu of a combined pick-up area. This would create separation from the Cleveland Street signal and promote the use of Eighth Street and Scott Street for drop-offs and pick-ups."
Artist renderings of each of the four alternatives were provided in the Olsson report.