New Hoover may bring traffic woes

Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 8, 1998

CHARLESTON ROAD: New Hoover may bring traffic woes

School district trying to control flow on campus

Parents trying to drop off their children at the new Hoover School, moving to Charleston Road this fall, may face morning traffic snarls as they navigate their way to the school.

The commute could be especially tough for residents of the west side of Palo Alto. No left turns will be allowed for cars traveling east on Charleston into the school, so westside residents will have to make a big loop around in order to make a right turn into the school driveway. Some will most likely find a way to make a U-turn on neighborhood street, to the consternation of neighbors.

Already many Greenmeadow neighborhood parents drive their children to nearby Fairmeadow school because of the increase in speeding traffic on Charleston near Nelson and Carlson drives.

"The Greenmeadow Community Association has been concerned with traffic problems on Charleston. It has had a huge increase in volume and speed," said Shirley Wilson, vice president of the Greenmeadow Community Association. "When Hoover comes down to the Charleston site, Hoover will be adding about 200 vehicles."

Wilson complimented the school district's responsiveness to neighbors' concerns. "The question now is we're going to have to talk with the city transportation officials and the police department to get enforcement."

She said the city has agreed to pay for three crossing guards during the first month of school--one at Alma and the railroad tracks, one at Nelson and Charleston, and one at Carlson and Charleston.

No left turns will be allowed into the school for vehicles traveling east on Charleston (from Alma) to prevent traffic backups onto that major arterial. Instead, those who live on the other side of Alma must take San Antonio or Page Mill roads, or drive north to East Meadow Drive (past two other schools--JLS Middle School and Fairmeadow Elementary--to Middlefield before turning on Charleston.

To speedily open the school by September without going through the city's approval process for a pocket left turn lane or a widening of Charleston, the Palo Alto Unified School District has decided to find ways to control traffic on their own property, by creating a one-way crescent driveway, and preventing left turns from Charleston.

"It is a kind of thing we had to do to get school running," said June Schiller, the district's director of building development. "It would be foolish to even dream that it won't make the traffic pattern worse on Charleston."

School officials acknowledge that come September, it is likely that morning traffic along the Charleston corridor, as well as East Meadow Drive will increase with three schools' worth of children converging on the area. To alleviate some of the traffic, the three schools will stagger their start times in 15-minute intervals.

"There is worry in the neighborhood that people will do U-turns at Nelson (Drive)," Schiller said. "It is going to be hard."

The district does plan to do a long-term traffic study of the three area schools--Hoover and Fairmeadow Elementary, and Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School.

Parents driving their children from the west side of Palo Alto will be forced to take San Antonio or Page Mill roads, or go up to East Meadow Drive to Middlefield before turning on Charleston so they can make a right turn into the school.

The district will continue to encourage car-pooling or, for children who live in the hills, paying for school bus service.1 n

--Elizabeth Lorenz 

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