Residents could see changes to the traffic pattern around East Gloucester Elementary School — changes its principal says will make walking to school safer for students, and driving to it less of a headache for bus drivers.
Plans to change the pattern will be the focus of a public hearing before the Traffic Commission at 6 p.m. Thursday in the third-floor conference room at City Hall. Ward 1 City Councilor Paul McGeary proposed the changes, which permanently alter the pattern around the school during drop-off and pickup hours. The hearing will also review proposed changes to parking rules on two East Gloucester streets.
McGeary's proposal cuts off access to the Davis Street Extension for everyone except neighborhood residents, school staff and school buses. It makes Chapel Street one way eastbound from East Main Street to Davis Street, and one way westbound from Mt. Pleasant Avenue to Davis Street, with traffic funneling down Davis Street. Those changes be in effect only during pickup hours, 8 to 8:45 a.m., and dropoff hours, 2 to 2:45 p.m, school days only.
Right now, the school blocks off Davis Street with a sawhorse. Traffic has been operating under the proposed changes through emergency police order since April. McGeary's proposal makes the emergency order the law of the road.
"We were having so much trouble with the school buses getting stuck in the traffic circle," McGeary said.
Before the emergency order went through, parents picked up their children at the school's traffic circle. Those cars, McGeary said, made it difficult, if not impossible for buses to get out of the Davis Street Extension. The proposal changes that from a classic one-way street to an intersection like Middle and Center streets. The emergency order, McGeary said, served as a test before he got down to writing the ordinance.
"With that revised flow, we don't have cars crisscrossing and children are much safer coming to school," said Greg Bach, East Gloucester Elementary School's principal.
The changes will clear up the intersection of Chapel and Davis streets, Bach said. The road had two-way traffic before the emergency order, compounded by cars pulling in and out of the Davis Street Extension.
Parents can pick up and drop off their children at the intersection or on Davis Street, Bach said, rather than clogging the traffic circle at the elementary school.
"All in all," Bach said, "it's a change that's long overdue."
McGeary's proposal also changes parking rules on Farrington Avenue and Eastern Point Road.
His proposal would allow resident-sticker parking on Farrington Avenue from Eastern Point Boulevard to St. Louis Avenue, adding more parking for residents looking to use Niles Beach. The beach, he said, has been discovered, and people are parking on Farringon Avenue, where, by law, they can.
The problem, he said, is that residents run out of parking spaces in the beach-sticker required parking spaces on Eastern Point Boulevard. Residents can purchase a resident sticker for $5 in City Hall.
The proposal adds parking to Eastern Point Road along the white fence at Flat Wonson Cove.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.
If you go
What: Public hearing on traffic changes around East Gloucester Elementary School before city Traffic Commission.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Third-floor conference room, City Hall.