ROAD CONSTRUCTION ISSUES
Last week was the final week of the 2013-14 year for many members of the ROCORI School District staff. Staff members, because of the wild winter weather, had obligations the first three work days of June, but now we have shifted into summer mode.
As the student year ended, we also shifted into construction mode! Although some of the construction is not “ours” as a district, there are several projects underway. We have construction on the west side of the Cold Spring campus with the County Road 50 project. At Cold Spring Elementary School, we are replacing the heating and ventilation system. At the District Education Facility, we have some smaller—but important—remodeling projects going on.
I would like to use this week’s space to touch on some topics related to the road construction. Next week, I will return to the district construction issues.
COUNTY ROAD 50
The work being done on County Road 50 is not necessarily a school district project, but it certainly affects us! Our parking lots have access on both sides—County Road 2 and County Road 50. However, the summer construction changes our access to the campus.
Coming through the city of Cold Spring, our only access to the secondary building is on the County Road 2 side of campus. The parking lot south of the High School opens directly into the construction zone on County Road 50, so it cannot be used until the project is complete. The access by the tennis courts opens just north of construction, but it cannot be directly accessed from the main part of the city.
The official detour path for the construction project follows county roads considerably north of the city of Cold Spring. Because the project is a county project, the detour needs to follow county roads.
The county cannot direct traffic through North Point because that area does not connect through streets maintained by Stearns County. ROCORI District property cannot be used as a detour area for several reasons—it clearly is not a county road, but it is also not a street! Our paved areas are actually parking lots or access to parking lots. They have not been constructed to handle highway traffic.
As a district, we have a choice regarding the property. We know, based on the processes at the county and city, we could have the access closed. We could place road construction signs at the entry point from County Road 50 and close our internal gates to stop traffic. We have chosen not to do that, however. We understand that the detour is a long way out of the city.
ACTIVITY ON CAMPUS
What we do need people to understand is that the parking lot area and the connecting access areas are NOT regular streets or roads. We have staff members parking in those areas; we have students and activity programs running—even during the summer—that put pedestrians in those areas; we have walkers, joggers, and others moving through the area; we have youth sports activities scheduled in that part of our property. We need drivers to exercise caution and good judgment as they travel through the property.
Over the first few days of construction, we have observed vehicles traveling through the parking lot at pretty high speeds. We have witnessed increased levels of travel through the property with sometimes long strings of vehicles. We have had drivers cutting between parked cars, even at fairly high speeds, to “shorten” the passage between roads. We have observed vehicles driving on the left side of the lot—heading directly toward oncoming vehicles.
We do not want to close our property during the construction project, but we do need travelers to exercise caution. Our campus is posted with a 10 mph speed limit—again, it is not a public street with speeds of 30-40 mph allowed. We need drivers to “keep right”—pull to the right side of the parking lot to follow the natural flow of the area.
We need drivers to be observant, attentive and cautious. Watch for, and yield to, pedestrians whether they are heading to their vehicles or crossing the property. Watch for other vehicles moving through the area. Be attentive to the activities that are underway—especially the youth baseball and softball activities that occur regularly.
As a district, we understand that it is much more convenient for residents of and visitors to the city of Cold Spring to be able to cross our property during this construction project. Although we are not an official detour, we are willing to help out by allowing the campus to be open! If residents are cautious, drive with care, and observe good traffic procedures, we will be able to keep the areas open.
If, however, we have accidents or are putting those who need to be on campus in danger, we can not only put the barricades at the entries, but we can close the internal gates on campus and severely restrict travel. Our preference is to be helpful, but we really cannot afford dangerous conditions to put legitimate school district guests at risk!