Highway to Solutions

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Highway to Solutions

Taryn Pirtle and London Beck

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A solution to the entrance to the high school’s parking lot may be closer than previously thought. On many days, visibility issues, traffic congestion, and inexperienced or distracted drivers can make entering or leaving the parking lot a challenging business. Since the school opened in the 2000-2001 school year, the intersection has remained unchanged.

 In the process of investigating, the Chronicle staff interviewed representatives of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and learned what it would take to change the current system, including the cost and paperwork required to do so.

 As most know, many of our students have been in wrecks at this entrance. Following these crashes (and some almost crashes) many questions have come up, such as “Why can’t we make it into a four way stop?” or “Why can’t we put in a stop light?

 Recently, CJ Police Chief Delmar Haase, in an interview with KODE, commented on the installation of a stoplight at the entrance. According to Haase, this would cost either the city of Carl Junction or the school district $200,000. He stated that MoDOT will not pay for it because of how few crashes have occurred.

 At the time of this publication, MoDOT reports zero collisions at the intersection.

 Knowing that fellow students have been involved in wrecks, CJ Chronicle investigators contacted MoDOT. Darrin Hamelink, Joplin area engineer at MoDOT, revealed that the actual cost of a roundabout is $700,000.

 The phone call from our investigators prompted an inquiry process. According to the Springfield News-Leader and the MoDOT website, citizens can request studies from MoDOT to analyze the best solutions for driver and pedestrian safety.

 Hamelink revealed that a study had previously been done; in fact, Tri-State Engineering Inc. conducted a study at the request of the Carl Junction City Council in July 2010. The study, though, was of the intersection of JJ and Hwy Z, not the entrance to the high school. Hamelink will next reach out to the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council (HSTCC) to get a roundabout on the needs list. “This is the first step into getting projects prioritized,” says Hamelink. The HSTCC is a regional planning commission that dedicates themselves to southwest Mo., specifically Barton, Newton, Jasper, and McDonald County.


 Another big concern in the high school has been the school parking lot. We have more students who can drive than spaces available for them. When all the parking permits are taken, students are to go to the office where they are put on a waiting list. The first people on the waiting list are given a pass once the seniors who graduate at semester turn in theirs. Just like the entrance to the high school, there are questions about these parking issues. The main question is “Why can’t we add more parking?” Most every student that is driving or is about to drive has asked this question. Mr. Pyle has answered some of these questions, saying “I would like to expand the parking lot, and I have mentioned it to the school board, but when it comes down to it, there are simply other things that need the school district’s money and attention.” However, Mr. Pyle says there is a way to expand the lot. Going into this, he mentions how other schools have their students pay $20 for passes. The schools then use this money to expand the lot and keep up maintenance, like painting the lines. Pyle said we could do that, but he would rather charge the students $1 for a pass and have a smaller lot. So, the question the Carl Junction Chronicle has to ask you is this: Would you be willing to pay $10-$20 a pass in order to expand the parking lot in the future? For now, Mr. Pyle suggests carpooling, because it seems unreasonable for people who have three student drivers in their house for all three of these drivers to drive themselves to school, instead of one student driving the other two, using only one pass. Overall, the solutions may have not been what you wanted to hear, but you are, indeed, being heard.

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