York parents worried about traffic around several schools has asked school district leaders to help find a solution.
Katie Clinton, a York parent of three students, who said she narrowly avoided being hit by a truck near Jefferson Elementary last spring, Tuesday asked school board members for help.
“A lot of parents have contacted me,” said Clinton, who said she has started a petition drive with 230 signatures and launched a Facebook page called Young Lives Matter Too.
“We want some type of solution that we can get in and out of our school and not have to worry about being hit,” Clinton said. “It’s a concern for all of us.”
Clinton mentioned concerns about traffic around Jefferson Elementary and York Middle School, both on U.S. 321 South of York, and at York Comprehensive High School on Alexander Love Bypass.
Clinton also read a statement from the family of the late Helen Parker, 83, a York woman who died in May 2014 at Carolinas Medical Center from injuries she suffered in an accident a day earlier on U.S. 321 near York Middle.
Parker was on her way to drop off her grandchildren at York Intermediate School when her car was hit by another vehicle, Clinton said.
In the statement, Parker’s family asked the school district to work with the city, county and state to make that area safer. “As we have no perfect solution, we trust and pray that as our leaders, you will be able to find a way,” the statement said.
Clinton said she ran off the road to avoid being hit by a truck on U.S. 321 near Jefferson last spring.
“I didn’t see him until the last minute,” she said of the truck. “Had I not reacted as fast as I did, we would have been hit bad.”
Superintendent Vernon Prosser told Clinton that the school district began considering what could be done to improve safety after parents recently voiced their concerns.
He said the district will request a state traffic engineer study the traffic around those schools, but he said that because U.S. 321 is a state-maintained road, changes are “a long, involved process.”
Clinton said parents suggested a traffic guard to direct traffic in front of Jefferson, a red light and traffic guard at U.S. 321 at Devinney Road, between Jefferson and York Middle, and a traffic light on the S.C. 5 Bypass at the high school.
She said pulling onto U.S. 321 from Jefferson “feels like a death trap.”
She said traffic lights on U.S. 321 would help because “tractor-trailers that come speeding through there will have to come to a stop. It will help with traffic and help keep the kids safe.”
However, she said those are just suggestions. “As long as we have the same outcome, that we are safe going in and out of our schools, I won’t have a complaint.”
Prosser said he isn’t sure if the school district can use a traffic guard to stop traffic on a state road like U.S. 321. He said the district doesn’t use many crossing guards because most students ride to school on buses or with their parents.
Tim Cooper, a spokesman with the district, said school leaders will work within channels that includes the York County Council and S.C. Department of Transportation.
“Since the school district only owns the parking areas around the schools, and not the roadways, we are limited in our options to make changes to the roadways,” the statement said. “But we are already in touch with various representatives to inquire about options.”
However, Cooper said those changes take time, “so we will continue to focus on what we can control, which includes ensuring our students are safely loaded into cars and buckled into car seats before they leave our drop-off areas.”
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077