Final results of a traffic study in the area surrounding the high school were revealed Tuesday night at the Quaker Valley School Board meeting.
Charles Wooster, president of David E. Wooster & Associates, presented long- and short-term solutions aimed at alleviating traffic issues and enhancing pedestrian safety.
The Pittsburgh-based firm also gave the district a final recommendation: pursue a permanent student pickup/drop-off plan.
“For the long-term recommendation, you really have to look at both directions of traffic,” Wooster said.
The school board hired the traffic engineering firm in the spring to prepare an assessment of the present pedestrian and vehicular patterns at the high school after a group, now called the Concerned Taxpayers of Quaker Valley, spoke out against the district's nearby property purchases. The district purchased homes at 704 and 706 Beaver St., with plans to purchase a third residence for a proposed parking lot, drop-off and bus turnaround.
School Director David Pusateri, chairman of the facilities and operations committee, said the consultant was asked to review the conceptual approach at the southern end of the school and a list of other, less intrusive alternatives from Leetsdale neighbors that didn’t involve using residential properties.
Most board members received the traffic study results for the first time Tuesday night along with the community.
While most community members praised Wooster's short-term solutions, such as installing school zone flashers with speed radar, others in the audience questioned the need to involve residential properties with a potential high school renovation in the future.
“We do have the cart before the horse,” said Pat Happe of Sewickley. She said the short-term solutions offered were “intelligent and very logical” and presented a clear opportunity to solve the problem with creative thinking.
As elected officials, Pusateri said it is ultimately up to the board to act on the traffic study recommendations and to decide whether to accept, modify or reject them. He said the board will consider how the recommendations fit into any future high school renovation or expansion.
“I for one want to make sure before we spend any money on an alternative plan for pedestrian vehicular traffic, that it fits in to whatever else we’re going to do to that high school down the road. We don’t want to just throw money away.”
Leetsdale resident Susan Fox, parent of a high schooler, said she applauds the board's efforts, and feels it’s about time people see the vitality and energy the high school brings to the borough.
“Not everyone who lives in Leetsdale is opposed to these plans. I think that as a parent, what you are trying to do is provide what most suburban parents want, a safe area to drop their kids off when they need to take them to school,” she said. “I just want the board to know, you do have support in Leetsdale because you are also part of the neighborhood.”
The school board didn’t take action on the traffic study results and Pusateri said action likely won’t happen for quite some time.
Instead, he said the next step is for the board establish an ad hoc committee comprised of stakeholders—Quaker Valley parents, high school neighbors, school administrators, public safety officials and other interested parties—to further review and discuss the traffic study and weigh in.
“It’s going to take some time to digest this report and to step back and look at this report and think about it as a community,” he said.
To review the traffic study, click on the PDF attached to this article. The study and the power point presentation are available at qvsd.org
Interim recommendations that could be implemented as soon as possible:
- Install exclusive drop-off/pick-up lane along Beaver Street
- Include bus shelters
- Remove two parking stalls adjacent to Beaver Street sidewalk
- Cut back vegetation along access road between lower and upper parking lots
- Install sidewalk and guiderail between lower parking lot and upper parking lot
- Install bulb-out with a pronounced crosswalk near the crest of access road
- Install school zone flashers with speed radar
Long-term, permanent recommendations:
- Establish a single on-site drop-off/pick-up location
- Create a turnout to accommodate several cars on-site during drop-off/pick-up
- Create additional parking for parents and staff (two proposed parking locations)
- Create a specific circulation route that results in less congestion during the peak traffic periods