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Traffic, parking improvements planned

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Mounds of dirt next to the playground at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School on Easterly Drive signal the coming of construction of new parking and pupil drop-off traffic improvements. Joe Beck /Daily

Officials want to ease congestion at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County schools officials hope they are on the road to solving long-standing traffic and parking problems at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School with the approval of plans that would reconfigure much of the building grounds.

Mike Riley, the school system's director of maintenance, said the project is designed to ease the movement of cars, buses and service vehicles in and out of the school and make it easier for fire and rescue vehicles to reach the site. The plans were approved after months of study by a committee that included school staff, central office officials, school board members Kim M. Athey and Joanne F. Cherefko, parents and Riley.

Parents trying to pick up and drop off children often bog down in a long line of traffic on Stonewall Drive outside the front of the school.

Riley said school officials have "desperately" wanted to fix the problem for years.
"When parents are dropping off children, it's borderline dangerous," he said.

The project still needs to be funded by the county Board of Supervisors. Riley said much also depends on the bids received, which will determine whether the school system can afford the project, he said.

"Based on the information given so far, there should be sufficient funding to do all of the project," he said.

The plans adopted earlier this month by the board divide the project into three parts. Traffic congestion that funnels buses and family vehicles into uncomfortably tight spaces would be relieved by the construction of a service road off Stonewall Drive. Parents would would follow the road to a drop-off point before exiting the grounds by taking one of two paved lanes back to Stonewall Drive.

In another part of the project, staff members who park their cars curbside along Stonewall will have an opportunity to move them into a new parking lot up a hill behind the school at Williams and Easterly streets. The lot will occupy a space that is now grassy area next to playground equipment on top of the hill.

Riley said the area with the playground equipment will remain intact and recreational space lost to the 46 new parking spaces will be regained by expanding the playground down the hill into a wooded area. The new playground space will require the removal of five or six trees, he said.

Mounds of dirt intended for the new playground area already occupy the planned site.

A third part of the project would install curb and gutter around the green circle in front of the school, remove several handicapped parking spaces from the current fire lane and offset their loss with the addition of three handicapped spaces inside the green circle.

Riley said the goal is to complete all three parts of the project at once and have them ready by the time school opens in the fall.

"It's a pretty ambitious project, but I think we'll get it all done this summer," he said.

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