Work continues on Prince Edward schools’ traffic problems

Published 6:54 am Friday, April 14, 2023

FARMVILLE – Back in December, Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley went looking for someone who could help with the traffic problems at county schools. He asked Scott Frederick from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to take a look at the issue, as Frederick is VDOT’s resident engineer in Prince Edward. Flash forward to April and Frederick says progress is being made in some ways. 

Back in December, Frederick helped put together a work group to go over the issue. That group included VDOT officials, members of the Prince Edward school district administration, Prince Edward County Supervisor Harrison Jones, the sheriff’s office and members from the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) groups. 

“We’re getting a lot of input from a lot of directions,” Frederick told the county board on Tuesday, April 11. “And every time we’ve met, we’ve come up with a tweak to make things a bit better. In the beginning, it was closing a few parking spaces and timing the school crossing guard.”

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Traffic at the schools has been a concern of parents for quite a while. Every week, The Herald receives at least one email or message on Facebook about traffic problems at Prince Edward County schools, with the majority focused on the elementary. Parents are upset about being blocked in by others, about long lines with what they see as no organization and yes, with residents parking in the wrong spot.

But those complaints have died down a bit as the recommendations from the work group have started being put into practice. 

Prince Edward can thank the drone

Part of the solution, Frederick said, comes from seeing a bigger picture. Earlier this year, Prince Edward County officials agreed to buy a drone. Thanks to footage from the drone, the workgroup was able to look at the problem differently. 

“Thanks to the drone footage, we get to see the campus as a whole and different places at the same time,” Frederick said. “We realized the school buses, when they would go to park at the bus garage (in the morning), they made it where anyone coming out of the middle school wasn’t going to go towards Granite Falls because the buses were in the way.” 

Basically, they found middle school parents were not using Granite Falls Boulevard to get back on Route 15 after drop-offs. From where they’re at, the buses’ location just slowed things down. Now the school district has the buses wait until traffic clears before heading back to the bus garage. 

“We’ve had a message board installed at the middle school, encouraging parents to go out the backside of campus and come around 15 on Granite Falls,” Frederick said. “It was a noticeable improvement.” 

Frederick said he was out there the week before Spring Break and saw traffic flowing good every day. He also thanked Prince Edward County Sheriff Tony Epps, who had deputies out helping to manage the traffic and also writing tickets as needed. 

The workgroup’s next meeting is Friday, April 21 and Frederick hopes to find more ways to help deal with the traffic, while acknowledging that some pieces won’t be fully addressed until renovations at the elementary school take place next year. 

“It’s been a really fun project to work on,” he added.