Arkadelphia News

APD offers tips on Back-to-School traffic

For three months each year, Arkadelphia is a sleepy hamlet with scant traffic for morning and afternoon commuters. When mid-August rolls around, that all changes as schools and universities begin their near year. Overnight, the streets in Arkadelphia wake up to a swarm of traffic, almost like a disturbed anthill.

Monday, Aug. 16, will mark the first day of school for Arkadelphia Public Schools. Children will be crossing streets, waiting on buses or traversing sidewalks. Vehicles will line the once-empty streets as parents drop off or pick up their children, and newly licensed teenagers — ones who just woke up, probably from little sleep — will be driving to the high school.

“Please don’t line up 30 minutes before school lets out. It only blocks traffic and doesn’t make the process any faster.”

APD Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson

To ensure everyone gets to and from school safely, the Arkadelphia Police Department will be out in full force, especially during the first few weeks of school. Arkadelphia Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson warns the public that it should abide by traffic laws and pay close attention to other motorists, pedestrians and officers.

“I would like to remind everyone that school traffic starts Monday morning,” Jackson said. “Please slow down in the school zones and do NOT be on your cell phones. We will be strictly enforcing both offenses. Cross-town traffic should avoid Walnut Street altogether if possible. All the schools have sent out traffic routes for their car riders and have them posted to Facebook.”

Jackson encourages families to use school buses when possible, and pleads with parents not to be too early for dismissal. “Please don’t line up 30 minutes before school lets out — it only blocks traffic and doesn’t make the process any faster. It’s often faster to arrive 10 minutes after dismissal times to let the rush subside.”

Jackson offered these guidelines to make the pickup and drop-off lines more orderly:

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Perritt Primary School

7:15 a.m.: Morning drop-off begins
2:45 p.m.: Afternoon dismissal

“You must approach from the west and enter on 22nd Street around to 21st for staging,” Jackson said. “New signs were put up this week to help. Do not block driveways when staging on these residential streets.”

Jerod Batson and Ryan McDaniel of Batson Signs installed signage on Walnut Street to direct parents how to correctly drop off students.

“When on Walnut stay as far to the right as possible, leaving room for two lanes of traffic to pass,” he said, adding there is no entrance to Perritt from the east. Buses are given priority and may enter from either direction.

Peake Elementary School

7:10 a.m.: Morning drop-off begins
2:55 p.m.: Afternoon dismissal

“You must approach on Main Street from the west,” Jackson said. “Traffic will be one-way and blocked from 12th to 15th streets. You must exit on 12th Street and not cross the lot to Caddo as it is reserved for bus traffic.”

Goza Middle School

7:25 a.m.: Morning drop-off begins
3:05 p.m.: Afternoon dismissal

“Approach from Malone Drive and Badger Lane,” Jackson said. “Once traffic has staged to Malone, you will not be allowed to block the lane waiting to turn in across traffic from the north. Pull all the way to the ‘Drop students here’ sign to let children out.”

Arkadelphia High School

7:25 a.m.: Morning drop-off begins
3:05 p.m.: Afternoon dismissal

“Car riders and student drivers should enter from High School Drive,” Jackson said. “Car riders pass straight across the parking lot and circle left around the first row of cars to drop students at the front door.”

Just rousing a child and getting them ready for school is usually a daunting task, and getting them to the school’s front door only adds to the frustration. The officers assigned to school zones are there for a reason, and it’s to keep everyone safe and traffic flowing smoothly.

“Directing school traffic and pedestrians is extremely stressful for officers,” Jackson told the Arkadelphian on Sunday. “But it is also one of our favorite things to do because we get to see and speak to all the parents and kids.”

He added: “The biggest thing is to take it slow, and follow the officers’ instructions when you encounter them.”

Related: Arkadelphia students required to wear face covering

Arkadelphia’s two universities will begin classes soon, as well, and their students are already in town. Jackson reminds the public to “expect increased traffic and try to give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination.”

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