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CPS considers commissioning new road out North parking lot

Columbia Public Schools (CPS) is considering commissioning an additional exit from the North Parking Lot to Peachtree Drive, an idea that began in 2014. 

CPS Public Relations Director Michelle Baumstark estimated the project would cost $300,000-$400,000 and construction would begin in about a year. Although the project is awaiting approval from the Columbia Board of Education as details such as the timeline and budget are still unclear, the road would meet a roundabout in the middle of Peachtree Drive. 

CPS Chief Operations Officer Randy Gooch said the roundabout is part of a previous venture by the city of Columbia to improve traffic in the Peachtree commercial area, and the city will build the roundabout regardless of whether or not the Board of Education approves the new road.

“From the district standpoint, the [new road] is part [of a] much bigger project. The majority of [the Peach Tree Drive development] is between the builder and the city,” Gooch said. “While the [roundabout] construction is going on, but before it finishes, we’ll [build] our access road.”

From the district standpoint, the [new road] is part [of a] much bigger project. The majority of [the Peach Tree Drive development] is between the builder and the city. While the [roundabout] construction is going on, but before it finishes, we’ll [build] our access road.”

Randy Gooch, CPS Chief Operations Officer

Because CPS hardened to a one entrance system at the beginning of the year, the North parking lot houses almost all student parking with the exception of 50-55 spots in the South lot. Baumstark said the coinciding roundabout construction could make building more efficient and thus provide a unique opportunity to alleviate some of the heavy RBHS traffic.

“The developer and the city had an agreement to make a better traffic situation when they develop that commercial area [on Peachtree Drive],” Baumstark said. “So, they are completing their roundabout in that area, and that allows us, the school, to add an additional exit out of that Rock Bridge Career Center area.”

Photo illustration by Cameron DeVore, Rachel Stevens

Junior Adrienne Smith, who drives herself to school nearly every day, said the traffic out of the North Parking Lot is a significant inconvenience to her. She said she believes the new exit could help expedite her travel to and from school.

“Typically [traffic out of the North parking lot at 4:05 p.m.] is 10 minutes, and it’s really scary because some high schoolers aren’t very smart on the road,” Smith said. “If you have to be somewhere right after school you definitely won’t get there in time.”

Baumstark said if the CPS Board of Education approves the new road, a process that would begin with an Engineering Services agreement in the next few months, students will have access to three exits: the primary North Parking Lot exit, the Career Center Exit and an additional exit onto Peachtree Drive. Hoping for construction approval, Gooch said the road could be a useful tool in bettering student life at RBHS.

“It’s something that we’ve been talking about for quite some time,” Gooch said. “This isn’t the first time it’s been talked about it, and it’s something that we feel would really be great to help with congestion around the school for arrival and dismissal, and when there are large activities occurring in the building.”

Do you think a new road would help alleviate traffic at RBHS? Let us know in the comments below.

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