Jami McMahon should be excited for her 6-year-old to arrive home after her first day at Lewiston Elementary School.
Instead, it was chaotic and stressful as badly congested after-school traffic trapped school buses, causing her daughter to get home at 4:30 p.m., even though she lives right behind the school.
Also, McMahon said the car line of parents coming to pick up their children clogged up the only entrance road into the school and her neighborhood, River Birch Landing.
“It gets chaotic,” McMahon said of the after-school traffic the first few days of school. “I’ve never seen it like this. You have normal school traffic. It was nothing like this.”
The car line was so long that it extended out of the car-line road behind the school and wound all the way into and through River Birch Landing. Many residents were not able to get in or out of the neighborhood or their own driveways the first day.
On Friday, the chaos was more managed as deputies directed traffic and instructed parents to line up in the neighborhood and not to block driveways. The deputies also made sure residents could come and go.
“It’s a great school,” McMahon said. “I love Lewiston. I know they are working their fannies off trying to figure out what’s going on.”
School system Super-intendent Dr. Sandra Carraway said all schools have some traffic congestion, especially at the beginning of the school year. Ones with a single entrance road like Lewiston and River Ridge Elementary are particularly problematic.
But Carraway said the congestion at Lewiston is due to the number of parents picking their children up from the ever-growing school.
The school was expected to open with 779 pupils and had 840 pupils Friday, with more steadily registering, Carraway said.
“This (congestion) is usual for the first few days of school, and, because (Lewiston) is a growing school, the traffic has increased as well.”
Carraway said the car line moves a little slow at the beginning of the year as the process of ensuring children are released to the proper adults is new for staff, pupils and parents. That will get better and better.
Carraway said she also expects the congestion to improve as the novelty of the first of the year wears off and fewer parents choose to bring or pick up their children from school.