Frequent reader and New Albany resident Jerry Steuerwald contributed the following comment, which argues in favor of the city of New Albany re-opening Locust Street to traffic.
This consideration was the main agenda item at Wednesday's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. The board postponed a final decision until its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 12.
In essence, the school system's position is that as the campuses of New Albany High School and Hazelwood Middle School have been augmented and enlarged, the potential threat to the safety of students from intemperate drivers on a reopened Locust Street has grown to the point that the street must remain shut.
At the most recent Public Works hearing, several speakers proposed compromise solutions to help regulate traffic during the more crowded afternoon hours when school lets out.
See also Residents sound off on Locust Street reopening, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor. Jerry's column also was posted in today's Volunteer Hoosier.
Liberate Locust Street
By J.R. Steuerwald.
During the past few years, since Locust Street has been closed due to construction at Hazelwood Middle School, residents residing around Locust Street have seen traffic on our residential streets escalate.
Locust Street was designed by city planners to handle traffic wishing to travel between Vincennes and Silver Streets. Locust Street consists of two schools, two parking areas, tennis courts and the football stadium, none of which are occupied continually throughout the day.
Residents living around Locust Street live at and use their properties 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They should be able to have safe access to their homes and be able to allow their children to play on their property without having to be concerned about increased traffic flow and excessive speeds from drivers using their streets in the attempt to connect between Vincennes and Silver Streets.
Representatives of the school system at the June 29th Board of Public Works and Safety meeting for the City of New Albany would have you believe that their insistence on closing Locust Street is for the “sake of the children” and their safety.
I personally couldn’t agree more, but whose children are we talking about anyway? Many of the kids they claim to be interested in protecting come from the very same streets whose residents (131 of whom signed a petition) seek to have Locust Street re-opened.
The issue of whether or not Locust Street should be re-opened is more complex than our school children’s safety. No one on either side wants anybody put in an unsafe position, whether they reside on Locust Street or any other street in the area. No! This issue is bigger than that. Both the school system and the surrounding neighborhoods can peacefully co-exist if the traffic is managed during peak school hours.
I’ve lived in larger cities that change the traffic flow of major streets daily depending on the traffic needs. Locust Street doesn’t need to be closed to city residents who pay taxes to support New Albany schools, just because our city’s “leaders” can’t find a reasonable solution to this problem —manage the traffic during peak school hours and open the street to city residents!
I wait with anticipation to see how the Board of Public Works and Safety decides on July 12.