A new elementary school in Southeast Raleigh will open a year later than expected so the Wake County school system can deal with concerns about potential traffic problems.
School staff planned to open Poole Road Elementary School at the intersection of Poole and Barwell roads for the 2017-18 school year. But the city of Raleigh and the state Department of Transportation are worried current construction plans won’t leave enough room for cars and buses to safely get in and out.
Now, Wake must acquire more land near the site, said Joe Desormeaux, assistant superintendent for facilities.
New site plans will be drawn after land is purchased. The new plans will include space for a future middle school south of Poole Road Elementary, Desormeaux said. DOT and Raleigh will have to approve the plans.
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Under the current plan, carpool drivers would enter the school property from Barwell Road and exit onto Barwell or Poole Road. Buses would enter and exit on Poole Road, said Brian Conklin, Wake’s senior director of facilities design.
Conklin said Raleigh leaders had safety concerns about traffic turning left onto Poole Road.
“That’s creating a corridor of a blind spot for the other traffic lane going straight,” he said at a school board facilities committee meeting.
The carpool entrance on Barwell Road also concerned the city because it’s only about 450 feet from the congested intersection, Conklin said.
Residents have had the same concerns since the summer, when they said the two-lane roads near the Knightdale border aren’t fit to handle added traffic from an elementary and middle school.
“The way Wake County wants people to go in and out of the school, there’s going to be traffic jams,” said Tim Sit, chairman of the Southeast Citizens Advisory Council.
Poole Road will be widened in the coming years with money from a voter-approved city bond, which should help ease traffic, Sit said.
But there have been other concerns about the school, including questions about whether it’s needed yet. Some said a planned elementary school on Rogers Lane will be enough to accommodate students in the area.
Poole Road Elementary’s immediate purpose is to relieve crowding at Walnut Creek Elementary, which has had an enrollment cap for all but one school year since it opened in 2011.