The Wright City Board of Aldermen has granted a permit for construction of the city’s new high school, but will require the Wright City R-II School District to build a turn lane on Roelker Road …
The Wright City Board of Aldermen has granted a permit for construction of the city’s new high school, but will require the Wright City R-II School District to build a turn lane on Roelker Road as part of the opening phase of the project.
Aldermen delayed approval of the permit last month over concerns about how traffic to the school would be accommodated. The new high school will be located on the south side of Wright City, between Roelker Road and Highway F.
On July 14, aldermen held a lengthy talk on the traffic issue with one of the engineers on the project, Eric Kirchner with Cochran Engineering. Kirchner told aldermen that in response to concerns about managing traffic flow on Roelker, engineers had already widened and shifted plans for the building’s primary, northwest entrance to form a four-way intersection with Roelker and Horseshoe Court. The improved entry would allow vehicles to more easily turn onto and off of Roelker Road.
However, Kirchner told aldermen that a traffic study determined that the number of vehicles going to the school wouldn’t initially justify any additional improvements to Roelker Road itself.
“Once the school reaches a point where it requires expansion to what they consider ‘phase 2’ ... they will need a left turn lane for southbound traffic coming down Roelker Road at the north entrance,” Kirchner said. “The cutoff between phase 1 and phase 2 is based on student population. When they reach 600 students, that’s when they start looking at moving into phase 2. It’s hard to say from here how long that might be.”
When asked how many students are at Wright City High School right now, Superintendent Chris Berger replied that it’s a little less than 550. That answer, combined with the knowledge of current population growth in the area, put aldermen right back onto the need for a turn lane.
“By the time we hit 2024-2026, we’re going to be at 600 (students) easily. ... We’re going to be at 600 when you open,” predicted Alderman Karey Owens.
“From a safety standpoint, what really is the setback to doing (turn lanes) at the beginning of the project instead of waiting until phase 2?” asked Alderman Don Andrews.
“The initial traffic to the school doesn’t justify the expenditure of tearing up that road and interrupting everyone’s lives to widen and put that turn lane in,” Kirchner replied.
The aldermen were clearly unconvinced by this argument.
“If we know by the date that the school opens we’re going to be at 600 (students) it just makes sense to get it done,” commented Alderman Ramiz Hakim. However, Hakim said the city government should also take some responsibility for safety and traffic on Roelker by adding stop signs and limiting the speed limit around the school.
Aldermen voted unanimously that, as a condition of approval for construction of the new high school, the R-II district will have to build a Roelker Road turn lane during initial construction. That will require widening the road by 12 feet.
The demand from the city could put the school district in a tricky position as it prepares to move forward with construction. Road paving and engineering isn’t cheap, meaning the R-II School Board will likely have to reevaluate construction plans in order to accommodate that cost.
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