East Sacramento Preservation Details Sacred Heart School’s Traffic Management Efforts

East Sacramento Preservation received detailed information about Sacred Heart Parish School’s efforts to lessen its impact on neighborhood traffic.

Following are the strategies SHPS reports using:

  • Staggering dismissal times–Kindergarteners (the students who take the longest to load into a car) are now dismissed 15 minutes later than the rest of the student body.
  • Students who walk and ride bikes or scooters are held on campus until the car traffic has subsided (average 75 students a day in the winter months).
  • We have a window of half an hour for parents to pick up students so not all parents need to arrive at the same time.
  • We send frequent reminders, via email and newsletter, to parents that they should not stop and wait at the STOP signs and to obey all traffic laws.
  • We time our dismissal on a daily basis and have found that from start to finish it takes about 15 minutes, while only 10 of those minutes seem to affect 39th Street.
  • We encourage parents who are walking their students to park at the church and walk down to school.
  • All teachers and teaching assistants are on the yard or on a crossing duty after school each day.

ESP, Inc. applauds the school and its responsiveness to neighborhood concerns. Illegal parking in red zones and waiting for students in traffic lanes has lessened. Parents are staggering pick ups and the back up of traffic is not as severe. The street is still blocked, but it has improved. 

However, there is one sobering consideration about these strategies: if there were a life threatening event on 39th Street during the 10-15 minutes that traffic is backed up, first responders could have difficulty maneuvering on the street. Additionally, these policies are not a fix, they just improve a bad traffic plan–they don’t correct it.

East Sacramento Preservation goes on record: The current use of the SHPS traffic loop is not safe. Sacred Heart School should continue to analyze the problem and consider further development of the parish church parking lot to divert traffic.

ESP, Inc. suggested the following remedies in an earlier post.   

  • Ask Sacred Heart Parish Church to provide its parking lot as a student zone for morning and afternoon drop offs. The parking lot has adequate spaces for waiting parents. Employ a crossing guard to help children cross J Street safely.
  • Ask Catholic Health Care West to extend the Mercy Hospital community van service to pick up and drop children from the school loop to the church parking lot.
  • Convene a parent meeting to stress the need for car pooling, biking and walking to school, and offer a small but attractive tuition reduction to parents who pledge to drop their children at the church.
  • Teach and emphasize bike safety in PE and encourage walking.
  • Ask parking control and the SPD to patrol the area at the drop-off time and ticket red zone and double parking violators to reinforce your policy.
  • Close the traffic loop to pick up and drop off during morning and afternoon drop off times once the new system is in effect, unless there is an extenuating circumstance.

How would you solve this problem? Let us know.

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7 Responses to East Sacramento Preservation Details Sacred Heart School’s Traffic Management Efforts

  1. Dave Edwards says:

    This is my interpretation of what is causing this situation. I’ve looked through the EIR for analysis of the proposed pick-up procedures at SHPS. On page 5.7-67, it states the following:

    “Many (most??) students arrive at and depart from the Sacred Heart Parish School by private automobile. Surveys were conducted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 in the morning and afternoon. These surveys recorded the number of queued vehicles as well as the departure rate of vehicles. During the a.m. peak hour, 147 vehicles were recorded dropping off students. The peak accumulation of queued vehicles occurred shortly before 3 p.m., when 27 queued vehicles were recorded.”

    This is consistent with my own observations of the queuing situation at the new entrance. In the afternoon, it peaks around 2:55 p.m. and there are often about 25-30 vehicles waiting, just as stated in the EIR. The problem (other than the fact, as noted above, that there are 147 vehicles dropping off students for a school population of just 325, how about some car pooling?) is that the way that SHPS is operating the queuing on campus in the dual-lane loop, there is only space for about 15 vehicles on-campus once the cars have exited 39th Street. That means that there are frequently around 12 vehicles waiting in the middle of 39th Street, in illegal red zones, or across sidewalks waiting for the queue to move forward.

    The EIR assumed that they would be using the whole dual-lane loop for queuing and stated the following:

    “Based upon the proposed increase in school size from 315 to 350 students, a design queue of 30 vehicles was calculated. The proposed school includes space for on-site queuing of approximately 45 vehicles. Assuming efficient management and operation of this area, queuing should not extend onto adjacent sidewalks or onto the City street system.”

    This is the root problem that the neighborhood is facing. There are never 30 vehicles queued completely on campus so it spills out onto 39th Street. SHPS has intentionally decided to operate their queueing system in an inefficient manner, possibly because, in their minds, there may be safety issues with using the dual-lane queuing system as designed and as planned for in the EIR. It would have been appropriate for them to mention this digression from the intent of the design and the EIR before we found ourselves in this little traffic mess. While I agree that the problem only transpires for 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day, CHW has again pushed what used to be a problem on their campus on to the neighborhood at large. Pedestrian, bicycle and especially emergency access is being compromised.

    If the queuing was operated as designed, there would be no back-up onto 39th Street. The assumptions of the EIR, based upon SHPS’s operation, are incorrect.

  2. Steven says:

    So, for approximately 2 1/2 hrs per week SHS deliberately clogs the street. Suppose during this time an ambulance is unable to get through. Will SHS make restitution to the patient being conveyed by that ambulance? Or his or her survivors?
    This school has a moral responsibility to fix this traffic danger. It should be modeling that responsibility for its students.

  3. joel says:

    Some parents have the common sense to park their car a distance of one block away and proceed to walk the entire length of that one block to the school and meet their youngons at the front of the school and then walk with their kids back to the car parked one block away. I know this concept of walking one block AND not being inside of a car might seem weird to many (especially those with perms and large SUVs) but I think it might improve the terrible/dangerous congestion…and might even, maybe, teach the kids that laziness need not be the modern default.

  4. Charlotte says:

    It would also be helpful if the city moved the parking restriction sign that blocks the new stop sign directly behind it if you are traveling down 39th from H to J.

  5. Tom says:

    how about just walking all the way to school no cars involved at all

  6. Michael Aden says:

    These strategies will help in reducing traffic congestion and facilitate the movement of vehicles. Thanks for sharing the efforts of Sacred Heart School.