Neighbors near school say traffic snarled

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 1, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Residents of Georgia Avenue say the rerouting of traffic to Vidalia Upper Elementary has caused traffic snafus in their area — and they want traffic routes changed back.

&uot;Cars waiting in line down our street block our driveway most days,&uot; said A.D. Talley, who lives next to the school. &uot;And I don’t see how an ambulance or a fire engine would get in here in case of an emergency.&uot;

But Mayor Hyram Copeland said the route — running along Laurel and Georgia avenues to a new street adjacent to the school, then exiting onto Concordia Avenue — was established to lessen traffic snarls along Concordia Avenue.

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In past years, buses and parents’ cars drove down Concordia Avenue to a circular drive in front of the school. But that street is expected to be a major route to and from the town’s planned riverfront development, so traffic needs to be diverted from it, Copeland said.

Adrian Sandel said he and his wife, Lisa, said Thursday that in the nine weekdays since school had been in session, they had had trouble getting out of their driveway in the mornings to take their children to school and get to work themselves.

They live right next to Laurel Avenue and could easily drive 25 yards to that street from Georgia Avenue. But since Georgia Avenue has now been made a one-way street going the other way during drop-off and pickup times, the Sandels have to make the block to get out of the neighborhood.

&uot;I would be satisfied for the street to be made two-way again while still leaving (the new route to the school) the same,&uot; Adrian Sandel said.

David White Sr. said that on several occasions, he has not been able to back out of his driveway in the afternoon because cars are blocking the driveway.

&uot;My daughter is supposed to have a baby soon, … and she is here with us,&uot;&160;White said. &uot;What if we need to get her to the hospital?&uot;

Henry Comer accesses his house via a nearby alley but said he has to block the alley with his own car during peak school traffic times to keep parents from using the alley as a shortcut to the school. &uot;It’s a sign that says, ‘No thru traffic,’ but people are tearing through there and tearing up the road,&uot; Comer said, his car parked in the alley once again.

Talley’s wife, Doris, said she is also concerned about children walking and riding their bicycles down the street possibly getting hurt by cars.

But Copeland said children would have more of a chance of getting hurt walking to cars on Concordia Avenue and nearby Riverside Drive with large dump trucks and other equipment and other traffic driving to and from the riverfront site.

And police are on site on Georgia and Concordia avenues to monitor the situation, he added. &uot;I know it’s sometimes an inconvenience, and I’m open to a better solution if someone has one, but no one has presented one,&uot; Copeland said.

A.D. Talley said he believes the best solution would be to extend the school’s walkway to Riverside, allowing children to be picked up there. &uot;But (town officials) don’t want to hear from us,&uot;&160;he said.

&uot;I don’t have another solution,&uot; Comer said. &uot;I’ll leave that to the people in charge.&uot;

Georgia Avenue residents — seven people live on the street — also say they weren’t notified of the change and found out when workers began surveying the schoolyard to build the new street through it.

&uot;People knew about it — we had been planning it for months,&uot;&160;Copeland said.

However, while parents waiting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday were waiting in hot cars for minutes on end, they still said they believe the new traffic route is safer for children and is the best solution to the problem.

&uot;I believe they’re handling it well,&uot; said parent Jeff McManus. &uot;We can’t go onto Concordia Avenue because of the riverfront.&uot;

&uot;If it was done the same way as last year, I believe children would have been injured by now,&uot; said grandmother Virginia Clifton.