With school back in session, get ready for the eastbound lane of East Broad Street in front of Mary Orr Intermediate School to turn into a parking lot. Parents picking up their fifth- and sixth-graders start lining up about 3:45 p.m., backing up the south lane in front of the school, through the intersection with Miller Road and even back to Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.“It takes awhile to get through, especially at the beginning of the year,” said Mary Orr Principal Duane Thurston. “Our parents are very patient. My worry is if there is an emergency on Broad Street, they won’t be able to get through.”But help is on the way. At the July school board meeting, Mansfield trustees approved a $410,000 budget to build a two-lane 1,000-foot driveway on the east side of Mary Orr Intermediate to get parents off the street.“This will help get the majority of parents off Broad Street,” said Jeff Brogden, assistant superintendent. “The new section alone will hold 76 cars.”Don’t get too excited yet. The four-month project won’t start until December or January, so it won’t be done until the end of the school year. The district doesn’t want to change the pick-up plan so close to the end of the year, so the new driveway won’t be used until the fall of 2015.Even the city is happy about the plan. “If it gets traffic off Broad Street, it’s a huge plus,” said David Boski, transportation engineer. “We’ve been talking with the school district about it for years.”The city will add a right-turn deceleration lane into the new driveway on eastbound East Broad, and a left-turn lane to the median for westbound drivers. The $100,000 city project will start at the beginning of 2015, Boski said.The new driveway will change how the students are picked up next year. Instead of having fifth-graders in the front and sixth-graders in the back of the school, buses will line up in the front and parents will pick up in the back in 2015-2016. The driveway will cut between the school’s baseball field and soccer field, Thurston said. A walking track will need to be replaced, he said. The district owns 31 acres at the site, with 12 acres still vacant all the way to Fire Station No. 2, Brogden said.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM