East Sacramento Preservation Documents Weekday Bumper to Bumper Traffic Near Mercy Hospital and Sacred Heart School

When parents collect students at Sacred Heart, traffic comes to a stand still. It’s one of the worst traffic jams in East Sacramento and it’s caused by a school.

Cars clearly parked in red zone

Sacred Heart Parish School was relocated to the west side of 39th Street between J and H Streets in 2010. The school is new and has 310 students. The campus was developed as part of Mercy Hospital’s expansion currently under construction in East Sacramento.

At three o’clock vehicles are often backed up all the way to J and sometimes to H Street, two major East Sacramento thoroughfares. The worst of the congestion only lasts for about 10 or 15 minutes during morning or afternoon student drop-off and pick-up.

There is a school monitor with a flag and vest assigned to manage the flow at the school entrance, but he often doesn’t appear until 3 pm. Cars begin to gather much earlier.

Theresa Sparks, Principal, Sacred Heart School stated that the school sends employees out to monitor the traffic. “… we do have all employees on deck at dismissal to get cars through our traffic loop in the most efficient manner we can. That means that after school there are about 20 employees keeping walkers, bike riders and cars safe and on the move.”

It’s clear the school does not have 20 employees directing traffic, and the people who do help, do not prevent parents from parking in red and hydrant zones, idling in cars or even leaving their cars parked illegally.

Double parked

Parents regularly park or idle in the crosswalks or wait in the middle of the street to turn into the school property. They cannot wait on the campus because there is no room.

Bicyclist forced onto sidewalk

The photos accompanying this article were taken this week at 3 o’clock dismissal and clearly show the lack of traffic management.

Notice cars parked in red zones, the cars stopped in the middle of the street and the bike rider forced onto the sidewalk. You can also see the cars exiting the Mercy Hospital parking lot, which compounds the problem. Finally, note that there are not 20 Sacred Heart employees managing the problem.

The jam-up is a detriment to the neighborhood and it’s a clear safety problem. Fire Department and ambulance services cannot get through the street at this time.

Sacred Heart and Mercy Hospital need to work together to solve this problem. A traffic plan and management strategy must be created for the hospital area. There currently is none and this jam up is one of the area’s biggest traffic problems.

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6 Responses to East Sacramento Preservation Documents Weekday Bumper to Bumper Traffic Near Mercy Hospital and Sacred Heart School

  1. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for writing about this.

    I have to deal with this traffic daily in order to pick up my kids from school (not Sacred Heart). Our school does not have a drop off “loop”, so parents park their cars, walk into school, get their children, and walk back to their cars. Sure, it’s not convenient…there is limited parking AND parking restrictions near the school. On top of that, there are meter maids circling the area after school on a regular basis.

    Yet, Sacred Heart families are allowed to park in red zones and block a major thoroughfare in East Sac? Add the ongoing construction on that street and this is not only very inconvenient, but as the author states, a major safety hazard.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you for your comments. Hopefully we will have an area traffic plan soon. ESP is asking Steve Cohn’s office to help.

  3. Kimberly says:

    That’s great to hear. I hope Steve Cohn’s office takes this seriously.

    The reality is, while great in theory, a drop off “loop” is not a necessity. I love living in East Sac, but with that sometimes comes a trade off for those types of luxuries that require a great deal of space.

  4. Dan says:

    I am a transportation Manager with over 30 years experience. I have no love or affiliation with Sacred Heart. In fact I think the principal is less than honest not only about this issue but many others. None the less, you people must be living in a vacuum.
    The problem of (almost all schools) having traffic jams is as old as the hills. With each year it gets worse as we are afraid to let our kids walk or we live further away from campus. DAVID LUBIN and SUTTER Middle School are just as crowed. The good news is pick up time only a few minutes. So get something real to worry about. If you really love East Sac how about our sewer system that is so old and broken we are living on top of a virtual open sewer!

    • admin says:

      Hi Dan:

      Thank you for your comments! Choosing battles to fight is part of being an effective neighborhood group. We agree with you about ALL schools having this problem, and that it may not be completely solvable. That being said, SHPS violations were so egregious, and on a major traffic artery, we needed to push them to move in the right direction. Since our articles, photos and organized complaints the following has happened:
      1. parents are not parking in the red zone
      2. school staff is working harder to monitor the problem
      3. the school is now encouraging parents to stagger delivery
      4. the school now encourages the parents to use the church parking lot

      We suffered some negative feedback in putting our group at the front of this struggle. It was worth it though… at least some changes were made. We continue to monitor the situation and will push for the one final big change: SHPS should fully use the church in place parking lot for afternoon pickups. The morning is problematic because of the masses at the church.

      Regarding your sewer comment, Right On! We need to do everything we can to upgrade and keep the quality of life in our neighborhood.

      Is this something you could help us with? We don’t know a lot about the issue, but we’re willing to support improvement efforts.

      I personally have travelled widely to third world and developing countries and to US cities. The unique, high quality of life in East Sacramento is a jewel to be guarded carefully and preserved. Come join US!

  5. Dan says:

    It is possible for the parents illegally parking to be ticketed. Steve Cohn may be able to help with this. The parents should consider dropping children off within walking distance. I had my children walk 8 blocks to school after 3rd grade. I am amazed that parents of 5th, 6th, 7th and even 8th grade students are driving all the way into the loop which can not handle the volume. The administrator can address this when children are being dropped off if she has the will. Many promises were made during the neighborhood meetings, it remains to be seen now that Sacred Heart has their way if they will be faithful to their promises.