A crossing guard directs traffic Nov. 26, 2013, on Highway 99 as parents pick up their children from Rockvale Elementary School in Rockvale, located about 15 minutes from Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Kemph)
ROCKVALE, Tenn. -- Officials with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are expected to make recommendations this month to commissioners regarding the best possible ways to address traffic congestion near Rockvale schools.
Traffic-related issues along the strip of Highway 99 near Rockvale Middle School and Rockvale Elementary School have becoming increasingly worse in recent years and are creating possible safety hazards for students and area residents, according to some Rutherford County officials.
Coupled with the fast-growing population that has largely been fueled by new residential developments, such as Rockvale Meadows, and the fact that both schools were built within earshot of each other, Commissioner Tiffany Phillips is among a growing number of residents concerned about safety in the area.
“We, as a county, created this problem because we put two schools right next to each other on a major highway,” Phillips said in November during a Rutherford County Public Safety Committee meeting.
As such, she has asked Sheriff Robert Arnold to present recommendations for possible remedies to the problem during the Public Safety Committee meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, at the Rutherford County Courthouse in downtown Murfreesboro.
“We need to try to alleviate it as much as possible during those peak times,” she said, referring to when students are being transported to and from school, especially between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. when other residents are also trying to commute to work.
“Ever since Rockvale Middle School opened, traffic has gotten much worse,” Phillips said, adding she was “appalled” by what she learned about the issues related to school traffic congestion while speaking with constituents.
In particular, the Clearidge Drive intersection near Dollar General, which is within a few hundred yards of the middle school, has caused several constituents to grow more concerned because there is no turn lane. This has resulted in drivers pulling onto the shoulder of the road to go around people trying to turn into that subdivision, Phillips said.
Take into account the school traffic congestion, some of which is likely related to people heading toward Clearidge Drive, as well, and “we have a recipe for disaster,” she said.
Although staggering school times or adding another crossing guard has been suggested as possible remedies, Phillips said she would like to receive more input from those affected by the traffic congestion and study the recommendations before submitting anything to the Rutherford County Commission for formal consideration.