Ask any parent if the traffic situation at Martinez Elementary is worse this year and you'll get a one-word answer:
"Absolutely," said Robert O'Neal, who parked in University Hospital's parking lot and walked to the school to pick up his son Friday.
"Absolutely," said Lynda Ivey, who was waiting in line to pick up her two grandchildren.
But to quote School Superintendent Tommy Price, things may look bad, but they're not as bad as they seem.
On the first day of school Wednesday, it took until 4:15 p.m. to load the school's 200 car riders. But by Friday, the parking lot was substantially clear by 3:49 p.m., only 19 minutes after dismissal at 3:30 p.m.
It will be difficult convincing parents that things are improving.
"The other day I didn't get here until 3:25 and I didn't get my daughter until five after 4 p.m.," said Stacy White. "It's terrible. I don't know how they could fix it."
In anticipation of the Flowing Wells Road widening project - a project that is at least four years away - school officials re-designed Martinez Elementary's parking lots and drive-through lane. There is now only one way in and out of the school. Engineer Joe Johnson, of Johnson, Laschober and Associates, P.C., said it was designed that way because ultimately there will be a light at the entrance.
Johnson and School Board Trustee Lee Muns were there to observe the loading process Friday.
Currently, there are seven "zones" where children are loaded. Parents are required to put a paper pie plate with their child's name on their dashboard and as they roll up, physical education teacher Kim Cave announces the child's name and zone over a bullhorn.
Johnson said the drive-through was designed to have loading in two lanes, which would speed thing up. But principal Michele Sherman said she doesn't believe double-loading would be safe.
"I've had a few complaints," Sherman said. "Mr. Price called me Wednesday to ask me if I was still alive. But I feel like this is the right thing. I am in complete control, the kids are not darting in and out of traffic and I know where my kids are going."
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