Traffic crunch expected as schools open today
Summer's over today for most students in the Lansing school district, and city and school officials are urging students, parents and teachers to plan on an early start to make their way to schools through the city's road construction.
With the Main Street System Enhancement project under way, traffic on the city's main north-south artery already is squeezed to one lane of traffic in each direction. Plus left-turn restrictions along the way have closed some usual routes to the schools.
For example, parents and students making their way to Lansing Elementary School, Lansing High School or Lansing Intermediate School from the north via Main Street can not turn east on Olive Street because of the construction. The closest alternative, which police are recommending, is to take East Mary Street. But because of construction, the left turn queue is short, and those making turns likely will be sitting through several stop lights before being able to proceed.
Students and parents making their way from the south to Lansing Middle School are encouraged to take a route on De Soto Road to Ida Street. Left turns from northbound Main at Ida - a formerly preferred route for many - are prohibited because of construction.
Capt. Ben Ontiveros said Lansing Police would be out with extra patrols around the city's schools for much of this week, trying to keep traffic moving.
"We'll have officers at Second and Mary and on West Ida," Ontiveros said. "We hope to have more people to float around; they may be called in to traffic control."
Traffic patterns also have changed around the high school and intermediate school campus to accommodate construction of the new auditorium that will be built at the high school. A byproduct of the construction is that fewer parking spaces will be available at the high school for students.
The best alternative for parents and students alike may be to take advantage of additional busing being made available this year by the Lansing school district to any student who has to cross Main Street to get to school.
"If each school bus has 20 kids on it, that means there's as many as 20 fewer cars per bus on the road," noted Brian Bode, a member of the Lansing School Board. "I'd rather be in traffic behind one bus than 20 cars."
Students in grades kindergarten through 9 begin school today, along with all new students at Lansing High School. On Thursday, all students are to report for classes.