The Middle School Drop-Off Problem

Will Millburn Middle School revamp our drop off system in the name of efficiency?

March 4, 2019

Millburn Middle School’s car drop-off system has made some concerned. Currently, more than 170 parent cars go through the Haddonfield Ave drop-off in only 25 minutes on an average morning. On one day, more than 200 cars passed through in just those 25 minutes. If including 16 buses or the 50 plus faculty cars, over 250 vehicles might pass through during this short window on very narrow streets.

This has repercussions for Millburn greater than just the school: every day, for 25 minutes, this traffic empties onto Old Short Hills Road. This is a problem for many reasons. For example, it creates a delay  from the motorists’ perspective, trying to get to work during their morning commute, and also from from a safety standpoint; to get to school, children have to cross this busy street. Addtionally, parents also drop off on Brookside Drive, near the walking overpass. It was estimated about 100 cars drop off here. Thankfully, the school district employs crossing guards, but the root of the problem remains, there are a lot of cars on the road during a specific time period. Perhaps, something needs to change.

           One solution could be to bring back courtesy or “free” busing; this would likely increase busing and decrease car ridership, alleviating some traffic at the drop-off. However, another more drastic solution would be to create an entirely new drop-off area. This is what Gabriel Pelaez, a high schooler in Millburn, proposed when asked. Gabe was contacted because he designed a walking path at Hartshorn for an Eagle Scout project. The new zone would be on Whitney Road, and students would walk to the school from the grass area behind the Middle School. On the plan, Gabe wrote:

            “(T)he amount of traffic congestion on Haddonfield Rd should be reduced as parents dropping off from the west will not need to turn on to Old Short Hills Rd,” and that “I think that once parents drop off at the proposed path, they should have an easier time leaving the area.”

           However, there are some concerns with the plan. For example, the congestion on the smaller residential roads might increase. A bigger concern is permission from the property owners to cross their land with the path. Gabe said:

We would definitely need to ask the property owners for permission. They do share a larger than normal distance between their houses compared to other properties in the area based on Google maps, so I think they might be willing to help solve a community problem. They could be compensated in some way too, maybe with some of the savings from not needing the policeman and policewoman directing traffic to stay as long. If the residents don’t agree, there might be an alternate path that could go between another two homes in the neighborhood where the owners who love middle school kids would agree,”

Another concern would be the increased walking time for students from the drop-off. A direct benefit of this plan, however, would be decreased traffic on Old Short Hills Road. There are many possible benefits and drawbacks. One solution to those possible drawbacks would be keeping both areas open in the morning. That, however, would come with a host of issues, such as the drastically increased resources needed to coordinate and manage the areas. The only way to find out if these proposals could succeed is implementation; the town could, if they get the necessary permission, have a pilot project for some time to monitor how the situation changes. Soon, the town will decide what to do; whatever it is, it must be implemented carefully and with an eye to posterity.

Do you think there are other solutions? Do you favor one solution over the other? Tell the town what you think through the poll and the comments below.

What do you think are the best solutions to the drop off problem?

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