An investigation into complaints about traffic snarls on Benton Ave. after Winlock Miller Elementary School gets out shows the problem lies mainly with motorists failing to observe posted parking rules, according to officials.
Confusion observed along the road after students are released in the afternoon had been brought up during the Feb. 9 meeting of the Winlock City Council, with Council Member Aaron Mummert stating he believes the city should look into making the road one-way to prevent near-collisions as parents and students attempting to avoid each other during the rush.
On the afternoon of Feb. 11, Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell and Police Chief Terry Williams were outside the school to observe the problem and found a majority of traffic impediments originated from motorists who remained parked along the sidewalk in front of the school during times it was designated as a loading zone.
Currently, the green curb in front of the school is classified as a loading zone between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., and between 2:30 and 3 p.m. on school days, during which time no parking is allowed, and those who pull up alongside the curb are required to stay in their vehicle while they pick up their student.
During the afternoon city officials were observing the situation, Williams said seven out of the 17 parking spaces within the loading zone were taken up by vehicles parked there since before 2:30 p.m., stating he was able to confirm six of the vehicles belonged to school staff. He said he has advised staff members in charge of monitoring after-school traffic to instruct employees to park instead in the parking lot by the gym, or at least to move their vehicles during loading zone times.
Williams also observed the afternoon rush lasted around four minutes, and said he felt making the street one-way would only serve to inconvenience residents living along the street, and the problem should be correct by motorists adhering to posted traffic regulations.
The council has not yet taken any action regarding whether or not Benton Ave. should be one-way, with Mummert having brought up the issue only as an information item.