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What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Niskayuna parent: 'It gets crazy right now'

Niskayuna parent: 'It gets crazy right now'

It is a familiar morning ritual at Niskayuna High School.
Niskayuna parent: 'It gets crazy right now'
Niskayuna High School students negotiate crossing Balltown Rd. on their way to school on Friday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

It is a familiar morning ritual at Niskayuna High School.

Parents drop off students, many with musical instruments in their hands, as other students walking from the parking lot attempt to navigate across two lanes of traffic to get to the building’s main entrance.

“It gets crazy right now,” parent David Davenport said around 7:20 a.m. Friday.

Davenport added that he is concerned that students have to cross the roadway without using the marked crosswalks. “This impacts traffic flow but, more importantly, presents an opportunity for injury,” he said.

Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio, who has personally visited the high school on a few early mornings, said the traffic some days has been very heavy.

“It’s been really backed up onto Nott Street,” she said.

Board of Education President Deb Oriola concurred. “I sat in the same line of traffic coming in from the back,” she said.

Salvaggio said she is more concerned about student safety than about motorist delays. She said the district is working with its architect and operations and maintenance department to determine safe pedestrian routes. “We need to identify designated crossing areas,” she said.

Salvaggio will be presenting a traffic safety plan at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting at Van Antwerp Middle School, which will begin at 7 p.m. — not 6:30 p.m., as previously announced.

The backups can be attributed partially to the fact that some sixth, seventh- and eighth-graders have band and orchestra rehearsal at the high school many weekday mornings during what is the high school’s first period, before the middle school day actually starts.

Cars flow in from both the Nott Street Extension and Balltown Road entrances, converging on the drop-off loop near the main entrance.

At the busiest point Friday morning, a queue of 20 cars stretched back to the Nott Street entrance. But the drop-offs were generally quick, lasting a few seconds each.

Sometimes, a car moved out of the line and into the left through lane to drop off a child, blocking other traffic; another passed a driver who had not moved ahead in the queue. In one instance, a car in the left lane slowed down as a group of students were crossing in the middle of the street.

The district has changed its traffic pattern during the last couple of years. When the school renovation was under way, parents were prohibited from using the Nott Street Extension entrance to drop off their children and the district had a police presence to enforce that rule, according to Salvaggio. Now the policy has reverted and parents can use that entrance again.

Davenport said the traffic situation has improved since the new drop-off was created with the new main entrance a couple years ago, because buses drop students off in the back.

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