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Traffic concerns near school pick up speed

A School Board member, alarmed to see no lights or safety patrols at a busy intersection near a new middle school, is calling for help.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published August 15, 2003

Mulrennan Middle School opened last week as a neighborhood school where students are encouraged to walk or ride bicycles to campus.

But the four-way intersection of Durant and Mulrennan roads, at the northeast corner of campus, has no crosswalk or light to help students get there safely.

"You've got thousands of cars using Durant Road, and there's no flashing lights or crossing guards," said District IV School Board member Jennifer Faliero. "It's an accident waiting to happen."

Faliero, who uses Durant Road when she brings her daughters to nearby Buckhorn Elementary, will be at Mulrennan's Aug. 19 regularly scheduled PTSA meeting to discuss possible solutions with parents and school administrators.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m., and Faliero has invited a traffic specialist from the school district, a county traffic planner and a representative for County Commissioner Ronda Storms to attend.

Durant Road, with its narrow two lanes and canopy of trees, has long been rural. But that's changing fast, as residents from new communities like Durant Trails and Buckhorn Groves compete for road space with traffic from Mulrennan and Nelson Elementary, two of six new schools in southeastern Hillsborough. Buckhorn Elementary traffic also spills onto Durant.

"When the school year started and traffic became a reality, we got a lot of parent phone calls," said Mulrennan principal Quincenia Bell. "I do feel the parents would feel more confident if they know their children are safe getting to school."

This week, Faliero also planned to meet privately with Bevis Elementary principal Beverly Carbaugh and Don Whyte, regional president of Newland Communities, about her concerns over traffic at the Lithia school's entrance.

The main entrance for parent and bus traffic is across from the entrance to a community center owned by Newland, and Faliero worries about children walking to and from Bevis amid the community center traffic.

Bevis has secured a second crossing guard to help students cross Osprey Ridge Drive, and Faliero said one option floated so far would close off the community center entrance during peak school traffic.

- Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 661-2443 or svansickler@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 14, 2003, 08:56:15]

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