Voters will have an opportunity Tuesday, Nov. 3, to consider granting the district permission to borrow $20.3 million to build a new three-grade elementary school on the east side of South Odell Avenue.
If the project is approved, traffic congestion will certainly be solved at one location -- whichever existing elementary school the district decides to abandon -- and likely will be reduced at Bueker Middle School, which will lose about 200 students as its fifth grade classes move to the new building.
But it remains to be seen whether traffic congestion at the new school will be as big a problem as it is at existing schools now.
Efforts to address traffic concerns were included in the original site design, which included separation of bus and car traffic once vehicles had entered the campus.
Unlike the current situation, traffic concentrations at the new school will not be in residential neighborhoods.
At public meetings in September, community members expressed concern that a single driveway near the north property line would not be enough to handle the traffic and would result in a bottleneck on South Odell Avenue, so district officials asked the architect to add a second driveway near the south property line.
Wayne Crawford, co-chairman of Citizens for the School Bond Committee, noted at public presentations about the issue that district officials have consulted with the city of Marshall about the possibility of making improvements to South Odell Avenue if traffic congestion proves to be a problem.
Marshall Mayor Connie Latimer said although no specific plans are in place, there are steps the city would consider taking, such as adding turn lanes on the street if necessary.
The city will not make improvements to the driveway itself, which would be built with bond money and would be the school district's responsibility.
She noted that the city recently completed the South Odell sewer project in hopes that more development would occur in that area.
A related problem in that area is the tendency for water to cover the roadway just south of Drake Road during heavy rains.
Marshall Municipal Services Director Bill Anderson said the problem is less severe than it used to be.
When the Missouri Department of Transportation added curbing several years ago, the ditches were widened and deepened, he said, so water covers the road less frequently than it once did.
But if the area gets a couple of inches of rain in a short amount of time, the roadway can still be covered in water temporarily, and though it is not a dangerous depth and doesn't run swiftly, he does not recommend motorists drive through it.
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