Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Traffic issues arise as school starts back

COLUMBUS — Polk County construction and school starting back does not seem to be mixing well.

Traffic issues have caused concern for some parents the first couple of days of school, as congestion at Highway 74 near Polk County High School has caused delays.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

On Tuesday, traffic was backed up almost until downtown Columbus approaching the high school and middle school.

Polk County Schools returned on Monday.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene said the beginning of the school year is always challenging as parents and students attempt to get to and from the school on time.

“Historically, car traffic tends to get better after the first few days and weeks of school as people settle into their schedules and routines,” Greene said.

But this year, the return to school is being impacted by the construction and detours on Highway 74, which is making travel time difficult to predict, especially in the mornings.

“While we want our students to be present and ready to begin when the school day starts, we understand it is taking longer than normal for some students and parents,” said Greene.

Greene said the North Carolina Department of Transportation is aware of the traffic situation and is taking it seriously, working to complete the Columbus project and find ways to address the current traffic issues.

The school system advises parents to begin their travels earlier and to allow extra time in the morning especially for the next few weeks.

“We understand the impact of unpredictable delays on our students and parents,” Greene said. “We have advised principals to work with students on tardiness and late arrivals, so please contact your principal if you have any concerns.”

Greene said the school system is continuing to meet with officials about school transportation during the upcoming World Equestrian Games. He said now that parking and shuttle plans are being finalized, he hopes to have guidance out for students and parents by the middle of next week.

The WEG begins Monday, Sept. 11 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring and will last until Sept. 23. Polk County officials are expecting 20,000 to 30,000 people to attend daily.

The NCDOT is holding an onsite meeting Wednesday to give an update on construction. Look for details in Friday’s edition of the Bulletin.

“Obviously our main concern is the safety of students and parents,” said Greene. “We hope that the traffic situation improves over the coming days and weeks and will work through any issues with you and your students. We are excited to begin the 2018-2019 year and thank you for your patience and support.”