School travel meeting set for today

— Soda Creek Elementary will try to find relief from the mayhem of buses, vehicles and pedestrians at a travel improvement meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the school library today.

Rick Denney, the facilities director who organized the meeting, said there is concern about traffic around Soda Creek, which occurs most heavily in the morning when parents and buses are dropping off students, and around 3 p.m. when those children are being picked up.

During the time of year when snow is at its peak, vehicles and buses line the streets, which makes student safety the utmost concern, Denney said.

"Parents feel they have good reasons for picking up and dropping off their kids," Denny said. "Some reasons I've never thought of."

Pam Geppert, special education teacher at Soda Creek, said the traffic situation is extremely dangerous because parents aren't aware of other students.

"Just last week a child was backed into. Parents park right in the crosswalk, right at the stop sign and watch their kids run across the street," Geppert said.

While she motioned for students to stay at the curb or continue crossing the street, Geppert pointed to where parents were illegally parked, making an already narrow road more congested and dangerous for children.

"Use the loop or the bus," Geppert said. "There is a definite safety issue."

A loop at the rear of the school provides a thoroughway for students accompanied by school aides. While teachers continually rotate crosswalk guard positions, no one has been hired to do the job every day, Geppert said.

Karen O'Connor said problems with the loop occur because of car congestion, which she does not want involvement.

"I'm not going to be part of that congestion," O'Connor said. "I'm flabbergasted at the lack of respect for the stop sign in the school zone."

O'Connor said parents and children are circumventing the stop signs, neither obeying the rules of the road continuously.

After complaining last year to the police, she said the deputy car observing the road defeats the purpose.

"Anytime you see a cop car, you obey the rules," O'Connor said. "I want people to be educated that there's a reason for stop signs."

Since the preliminary meeting held Feb. 14, Denney said some factors have changed to help find safer solutions.

The meeting today will be to review ideas, discuss comments and allow for the public's input.

"We removed snow in specific areas to widen the road, making pedestrian access flow better," Denney said, adding that fencing separating vehicles from pedestrian traffic and gravel for mud and snow paths have been installed.

During the spring, children tend to walk in the street to avoid the mud, Denney said.

"We've also encouraged our parking lot attendants to help guide people to pull forward," Denney said. "It requires a little education to get people off the street."

The concern started when the city of Steamboat received a letter from a concerned citizen.

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