Polk County Schools details traffic-related plans for World Equestrian Games

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 7, 2018

Polk County Schools will be in session during the World Equestrian Games as they take place from Sept. 11 – 21 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

Heavier traffic is expected throughout the county during the games. We anticipate travel to and from schools to be problematic at times, especially on the eastern side of Polk County near TIEC and event parking areas.

The safety of our students and families is very important to us. We have been meeting and working with multiple agencies to determine the impacts on school travel during this time, and to develop plans and actions that will help mitigate the anticipated delays and issues. We ask that families and student drivers take a few moments to read and consider the following:

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• Please allow extra time for travel during WEG, and be prepared for slow moving traffic and potential delays throughout Polk County

• Staff schedules have been changed temporarily at all schools so that student supervision can begin at 7 a.m. each morning during WEG

• We are asking schools to be lenient with students arriving late, being picked up late or who may be absent on a particular day due to a modified bus route or extremely heavy traffic

• We will be monitoring traffic as WEG begins and progresses —we will adjust plans if necessary due to traffic that is heavier or lighter traffic than expected

• The North Carolina Highway Patrol has agreed to help our transportation department by following buses on their routes as they are able, and to assist them in navigating heavier traffic on Highway 9 and near event parking areas

• Please encourage your student drivers to allow for extra travel time and take additional precautions when traveling to and from school

• Please remember that many visitors attending the events are not familiar with our area, our roads  or perhaps our country — be extra vigilant at traffic lights and stops, and be sure to watch for officials and emergency services personnel directing traffic

• We anticipate students attending Polk Central Elementary and those living in the Mill Spring, Green Creek and Pea Ridge areas will be most affected during the WEG — we will do our best to communicate and work with these families

• We will be modifying bus routes in the Mill Spring, Green Creek, and Pea Ridge areas near TIEC — a list of road closings and modified routes will be finalized and posted on polkschools.org, and will be updated to reflect any changes

• We will be working to contact students and families if their bus routes, stops or times will be affected

• During the WEG Endurance Event on Wednesday, several roads will be closed repeatedly as competitors cross or use portions of the roadway — North Carolina Department of Transportation staff will be monitoring these crossings, but we have been advised to not run buses on many of the identified roads on that day. Check polkschools.org for more information.

• The Polk County Schools Transportation Department will be staging support vehicles in different parts of the county to allow quicker response to any bus issues that might arise during morning and afternoon routes

• Polk County Local Government is offering a text messaging system for alerts during WEG for anyone traveling in the area — those interested can sign up by texting “WEG2018” to “888777”

We would like to thank Polk County Government and Emergency Services, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and representatives from TIEC for their cooperation and assistance. We also greatly appreciate our Polk County Schools Transportation Department for all their efforts and the work they will do to support bus transportation in the coming weeks.

Aaron Greene, Polk County Schools Superintendent, (Guest Column)