FORT WORTH -- Poor infrastructure planning and the elimination of free busing have left many far north Fort Worth residents fighting to get their children to school while keeping their neighborhood streets safe.
City officials met with about 50 residents from the Villages of Woodland Springs on Wednesday to discuss possible solutions to eliminate cut-through traffic on residential streets near the intersection of Alta Vista Road and Timberland Boulevard.
Many motorists use the residential streets during school drop-off and pickup hours, tying up traffic and creating safety problems for the more than 40 children who daily use the crosswalk at that intersection to get to school. The issues primarily involve people going to nearby Caprock Elementary and Timber Creek High schools.
Mark Kisner, who lives in the area affected by the cut-through traffic, said he has worked since 2008 to resolve the issue. "We aren't trying to inconvenience anyone; we are just trying to keep the kids in our neighborhoods safe," he said.
A major concern for Kisner is the dangers children face crossing Alta Vista Road at Funnel Street.
"My wife almost got hit when a car rolled through a stop sign when she was walking my kids to school. It is awful," he said.
To try to address the problems, the city installed signs last month that prohibit northbound traffic on Alta Vista from turning turn left onto Dwarf Nettle Drive and Funnel Street during school drop-off and pickup, said Jim Walker, assistant director for city transportation and public works.
But he said some residents who turned at the intersection after dropping their children off at another school "found that it was a terrible inconvenience and they wanted to know the justifications."
Woodland Springs resident Tom Dodd is among those unhappy with the signs.
While Dodd said he empathizes with people who live in the neighborhoods affected by the cut-through traffic, he thinks that the no-left-turn rule is "silly."
"Rather than having a police officer sit there and give people tickets, why not have that same person you are paying to do that direct traffic?"
Improvements being made at the intersection are creating more "impossible congestion," he said.
"They have left people with very few alternatives to navigate that area in a timely fashion. They are closing down roads, and yet the city failed to create any alternatives to pass through those areas," he said.
The city is exploring having a police officer direct traffic, Walker said. "We will certainly visit with our Police Department and traffic control folks and see what validity that has," he said.
Still, Walker said, Police Department data show a need to eliminate the cut-through traffic on the residential streets.
"We understand that it is a terrible inconvenience to some of the neighbors, but we simply felt that that massive amount of traffic was certainly not safe," he said.
On Oct. 6, two police officers stopped about 87 vehicles cutting through the neighborhood during school drop-off, Walker said. Fewer than 10 lived in the neighborhood, he said. The next week, on Oct. 13, officers noted 71 vehicles turning into the residential area during morning school traffic.
Kisner and Dodd agreed that construction at the intersection and elimination of free busing have played a role in the congestion and cut-through problems.
It is a difficult situation, Councilman Sal Espino said. "It pits those residents of those neighborhood streets against other folks in Woodland Springs that are trying to get to the high school," he said.
Espino would like to see a neighborhood consensus on a solution. The signs prohibiting cut-through traffic into residential areas are a temporary fix, he said. "Obviously the ultimate solution is for Alta Vista and North Beach Street to be widened," he said.
Alta Vista from Timberland Boulevard to Keller-Hicks Road will eventually become a four-lane divided arterial street. The city expects construction to begin in March and be complete by April 2013.
"If residents will just be patient, those improvements are coming," he said.