Monday, April 15, 2024

Here’s how traffic is causing issues at Lafayette High School

Mandi McKnight, a Lafayette High School parent, has become so frustrated with the state of traffic at the school that she sent a photo of the issue to the school's principal, Daniel Miani, in September. (WYDaily/Courtesy Mandi McKnight)
Mandi McKnight, a Lafayette High School parent, has become so frustrated with the state of traffic at the school that she sent a photo of the issue to the school’s principal, Daniel Miani, in September. (WYDaily/Courtesy Mandi McKnight)

Drivers at Lafayette High School are no strangers to traffic and now it just might get a little worse.

The school previously had a resource officer directing traffic outside the parking entrance but now there will be no one as the SRO has been designated to duties inside the building.

From a school security standpoint, it is essential to have the SRO in the building as large numbers of students and visitors are entering and exiting the school at the start and end of the school day,” said Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools. “WJCC Schools appreciates that we have officers at each middle and high school to serve in this capacity.”

But drivers at LHS are frustrated because the traffic during the school start and end times is already bad and will get worse without someone directing traffic, said Mandi McKnight, an LHS parent.

McKnight has been dropping her children off in the morning at the school for five years and she said it’s constantly a struggle to get in and out of the lot.

“It’s an on-going issue and it’s only getting worse and worse” she said. “You can sit there for 20 minutes before you even pull in.”

In September, McKnight expressed her frustration in an email to the school’s principal, Daniel Miani, saying that a police officer directing traffic was a “key component” to not having cars backed up to Old Town Road.

RELATED STORY: Here’s why there isn’t a traffic light at Lafayette High School

“I agree that having the SRO out to direct traffic is important,” Miani said in a reply email. “Our SRO makes every attempt to provide that support in the morning; however, he is often pulled or not available based on his responsibilities as a member of the JCC police department.”

Other locals are starting to take notice as well. Trevor Herrin, a first responder in James City County, said traffic is a huge concern for him and he’s noticed the congestion outside the high school.

“As a first responder I’m concerned about our ability to reach the scene of incidents in any of those areas during high-traffic times, and the high risk to our children at Lafayette is unacceptable,” Herrin wrote in a Facebook message.

Part of the issue with the traffic is there is only one way in and out of the school’s parking lot which opens onto Longhill Road. McKnight said the traffic becomes stressful for her each day, so she can only imagine the distress it would cause for inexperienced high school drivers.

“It makes you ask, where’s our priorities with safety issues in the county,” McKnight said. “I think a lot of the parents have been told there’s nothing you can do about it, but it’s a safety issue.”

But for the James City County Police Department, it’s a safety issue not to have the SRO working in the building.

“The main role of the SRO is to be a visible presence at the schools for added security,” said Deputy Police Chief Steve Rubino. “This is especially needed at the beginning and end of the school day as there are a lot of students and staff coming and going at the school. For this reason, JCCPD and WJCC Schools prefer the SROs to be present in and around the school grounds. James City County Police does not have the resources to direct traffic at the schools during the beginning or end of the school day.”

McKnight said she had previously heard of parents inquiring about placing a traffic light at the entrance but in the five years she’s had students at the school, she hasn’t seen much progress.

However, as the school year continues, she said she hopes WJCC will look at ways in which the school’s traffic can be made safer and more efficient. 

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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