By Staff Writers Ian Hsu & Maggie Zhao
Students, parents, and faculty tested a new traffic configuration starting May 1. As part of the new plan sponsored by Robson Homes, two additional drop-off zones were outlined in a trial plan hoping to reduce traffic on Palm Avenue. One drop-off zone will potentially be in the horseshoe, and the other will be in the previous staff parking lot.
The drop off lanes are a result of Robson Homes’ new construction of houses on land across Mission Boulevard from MSJ, approved by the Fremont City Council on March 14. As part of the proposal, Robson Homes also agreed to construct a driveway for MSJ student drop-offs on Mission Boulevard to improve traffic flow along Palm Avenue. The original proposed plan called for only a single loop near the north side of campus, but it was recently modified to include more access points.
If the trial run of the traffic configuration goes well, the horseshoe will no longer be used for office parking, and will instead be renovated into a drop-off loop intended to decrease traffic on Palm Avenue as per the modified plan. The horseshoe parking spaces would then be available to visitors only. In addition, the current staff parking lot would be reconfigured into a second drop-off loop. The only entrance to the staff parking lot would be the main three-lane entrance on Palm Avenue, and cars would exit through a new lane leading back out to Palm Avenue. Staff would park in the student parking lot, and students would need to park closer to the soccer fields, as there will be no construction extending the student parking lot.
Robson Homes Project Manager Jake Lavin, who is in charge of the design and construction process, said that “the plan [will] give parents multiple locations on the campus to drop off their students. With the construction of a new drop-off loop on Mission Boulevard, and the two new drop-off loops created on Palm Avenue, there will be separate and distinct drop-off loops and routes for parents approaching the school from the south, the west, and the north. Parents will be able to plan accordingly to use the route that works best for them.” Assistant Principal Jeff Evans said, “The traffic has been an ongoing problem for the last three years I’ve been assistant principal — to figure out how to solve traffic in the morning, and now when Robson Homes stepped up to build houses on the hill they said they would help us build some things and so this is part of the agreement.”
Lavin believes the new plan will ultimately be more successful because “this approach has been used successfully elsewhere in the School District. There is currently no drop-off locations on the campus, and no ability to turn around on Palm Avenue. The street is being used for the drop-off and that slows everyone down. The new plan moves the drop-off activity onto the campus, and allows drivers to return in the same direction as their approach. There will still be congestion on Palm Avenue due to the convergence of so many cars at the same time, but the new configuration should keep parents moving in a more orderly fashion.”
Construction for the trial test began on April 13, when Robson Homes construction crews coned off the staff parking lot. The sidewalk curb was removed soon afterwards and several staff parking spaces were removed as well. These modifications are only temporary, as the new arrangement is only for a trial run. If the trial run is unsuccessful, the temporary lines will simply be painted over and the traffic situation will return to its previous state until a better plan is proposed. While the outcome of the trial is yet to be seen, Lavin has a “high degree of confidence that the new traffic configuration will ultimately prove to be an improvement over the current situation.” ▪
Photo Courtesy W-Trans