ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Duluth school makes some traffic fixes

The School Board for Duluth's chartered Edison Schools spent much of Thursday evening talking through how to deal with transportation and parking difficulties at the new North Star Academy campus.

The School Board for Duluth's chartered Edison Schools spent much of Thursday evening talking through how to deal with transportation and parking difficulties at the new North Star Academy campus.

Tom Furman, an Edison parent, said he spoke for others in expressing frustration with the board's failure to anticipate the problems that led to traffic gridlock during the first several days of school.

"How could this go through?" he asked of the design, claiming that it made parents feel unwelcome. Furman also said the school lacks sufficient areas for student outdoor play.

"I don't blame anyone for making mistakes. If we couldn't make any mistakes, we wouldn't learn," he said. "But if there's been a mistake, let's move forward and fix it."

Phillip Seeman, a parent and School Board member, suggested adding a turn lane to Technology Drive.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I talked to city engineering staff, and they seemed to think a second lane out to give people an opportunity to turn right might be a good idea.

Paul Goossens of the Tischer Creek Building Co., the firm that built and owns the North Star Academy building, noted that the city, not the developer, calls the shots when it comes to the design of Technology Drive.

"The roadway specifications were dictated to us by the city. We took direction from city engineers," he said, noting that the idea of an additional turn lane would appeal to him, too.

Traffic at the new school has been complicated in part by the access road it shares with UnitedHealthcare Group, which sends home hundreds of workers each day at 4:30. The combination of school and UnitedHealthcare traffic all trying to leave at once created a bottleneck.

Road construction on nearby Arrowhead Road and problems with traffic signals have created additional headaches. But work on the road and signals should be completed by Wednesday of next week.

Meanwhile, Edison Head of Schools Bonnie Jorgenson moved up the time that parents are allowed to pick up their children from 4 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. This earlier pickup time has cleared the way for buses arriving at 4:05 p.m. to operate more efficiently.

Jorgenson unveiled additional plans Thursday to lease off-site parking for school staff members to use, further reducing congestion. A shuttle service will transport staff members to and from their vehicles before and after school, beginning some time next week, if all goes according to plan.

Following the advice of a couple of parents, Jorgenson said the school also will designate the two-lane drive that encircles the academy as a one-way road to improve traffic flow.

ADVERTISEMENT

School Board President and parent Tim Golden praised the short-term fixes but said the board remains committed to finding longer-term solutions. Unfortunately, wetlands on the 15-acre North Star site complicate the matter.

"It's not that the land isn't buildable, but the wetland variance process is cumbersome and complicated," Golden said. School representatives also have talked to neighbors about the possibility of additional acquisitions that could provide more options.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONTRANSPORTATION
Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
What To Read Next
An assistance package should provide $200,000 to complete the renovation of the neighboring building in the Spirit Valley neighborhood.
Bankruptcy information gathered from cases filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Duluth.
Recently sold properties from St. Louis County.
Bankruptcy information gathered from cases filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Duluth.