This is somewhat of a repeat of a Moms (and dads, etc.) column from two weeks ago, but the subject just won't go away.
The Cedar Hill School has a walkway leading to the rear of the adjoining high school, and for years has been an alternate way into the building for kids walking from the nearby neighborhood, as well as some car traffic.
But since the new "trial" bus route was started on Feb. 1, the streets heading to the elementary school have each morning received the influx of 27 school buses. But on top of that, many more parents dropping off their kids apparently discovered the back way into the school, and added to traffic on the neighborhood's narrow streets.
So far, according to the Homestead Village residents, two children heading to their own buses for the middle school have almost been hit by car drivers.
And at Monday's Board of Education meeting, a student who said she daily walks to Ridge along Homestead Village roads said she recently was almost hit by a bus — and the bus never stopped. The spectacle of a student in tears before an auditorium with a good number of audience members and a full dais of officials just rubbed the wrong way, whatever the reason.
Still, even opponents of the busing via Cedar Hill School have admitted there is a longstanding problem with traffic backups every single morning at the high school's main entrance, at a traffic light at the intersection of South Finley Avenue and Lake Road.
And certainly, while residents have approached the school board to voice their opinions, what about commuters and other people heading through town who deal with the daily bottleneck, right at the start of rush hour? Ridge Principal Frank Howlett said he has received communications — not always pleasant — from drivers are trying for other reasons to cross town on what may be the main route through Basking Ridge.
And what's been the effect of the change in the bus route, anyway? This morning, I unwillingly joined the drive-in crowd when our alarm didn't go off, and I had to drive my Ridge sophomore to school. I arrived at the back of the traffic line heading north on South Finley Avenue at 7:22 a.m.
Cars stretched out to as far as the more northern turnoff into the Cedar Hill School — certainly a temptation! But parents have been asked not to drop off students at Cedar Hill anymore, and the Basking Ridge Patch editor didn't want to add to the problems in Homestead Village.
So, even without buses, we crept along and reached the front of the high school at about 7:32, just as my car clock was about to turn to 7:33 a.m. Was he late? I guess I'll find out.
What else to do? Head through the municipal complex? The township police chief reportedly responded to suggestions of school buses accessing the back of the high school from the municipal complex by offering the concern that then the exit from the police department would be blocked by buses and other school traffic.
But what if an existing gravel access road between the municipal complex and school parking lot was paved and made into a one-way road for buses only? Is that possible? Or is it more complicated than it looks, as one official noted when I threw out that idea?
What about other ideas? The township engineer reported to the Township Committee Tuesday night that options for substantially affecting traffic flow at the high school would require some sort of construction.
Construction is expensive — and neither the Board of Ed nor the municipality have extra money to throw around. And who wants their taxes to go up?
Would police directing at the high school in the morning help? What other ideas do you have?
Meanwhile, the Township Committee has asked — twice — that the school board stop sending buses through Homestead Village while other alternatives are examined.
But school officials — and some members of the public — point out that the merging of buses, parents dropping off students and student drivers, all at one spot in front of the high school, also is very dangerous. Board member Robin McKeon said at Monday's school board meeting that all existing options for traffic control at the high school "stink."
And the school district is setting up a task force, envisioned to include Homestead Village residents, to try to examine alternatives. Do you think that will help?
The common perception seems to be that all options have some sort of negative impact in another way. What ideas have you heard discussed, and do you think it's time to finally address a longstanding problem, or learn to better live with it rather than seeking a costly solution?
What do you think? Please let us know in the comments section below.