Commissioners approve $38,000 to alleviate Mountain View traffic

Wil Petty

June 23, 2014

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved to provide $38,000 to Ashe County Schools to help prevent traffic problems at the entrance of Mountain View Elementary School in its regular scheduled meeting on Monday, June 16.

Ashe County Schools will provide the other 50 percent of funds for the project, which will lessen the school’s affect on traffic on N.C. 16 and U.S. 221 when parents are picking up and dropping off children at the school.

Ashe County Manager Sam Yearick said conversations about the county providing funding began during the commissioners’ budget meetings when Ashe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden had contacted the county about a possible solution.

“There’s a bad traffic problem around the Mountain View school and (Holden) wanted to know if the county would be willing to go half on a solution,” Yearick said. “I believe at that time, the general consensus for us was to let us know if (the proposal) was a long-term solution or a Band-Aid™.”

After showing the commissioners the map of the proposed changes, Yearick then asked if this would be the permanent solution the county was looking for in regards to the traffic problem.

“Is it a permanent solution or not,” he said. “I can’t tell you whether it is, you have better knowledge of the situation than I do, but it does look doable.”

Commissioner Larry Rhodes said the solution proposed by Ashe County Schools would increase the number of vehicles able to wait on school property and keep the roads open.

“The problem is the number of cars having to sit on (N.C.) 16 and (U.S.) 221 waiting,” Rhodes said. “This (proposal) will bring between 45 and 48 more cars that will be taken off the highway while waiting and still provide a lane for emergency vehicles to go through.”

Rhodes said problems with traffic at Blue Ridge and Westwood elementary schools were nonexistent. Ashe County High School and Ashe County Middle School were not brought up in the discussion.

“I am confident (the Board of Education) did their homework,” he said.

Also in support of providing the $38,000 for the project was Commissioner William Sands, who commutes through that part of the county.

“I come through there every school morning, and that is always a problem going through there,” he said.

In a June meeting of the Ashe County Board of Education, Mountain View Elementary School Principal David Blackburn also proposed an expansion plan, a cul-de-sac to help traffic flow through the campus when parents were picking up and dropping off their children.

“We want to make (the cul-de-sac) wide enough to where we keep cars on the outside of the lane and keep the center open so that in case of an emergency, we can get an emergency vehicle to go right through the middle of the cars,” he said.

Kenneth Richardson, the director of maintenance for Ashe County Schools, said they had been lucky to not have any accidents when parents were picking up and dropping off children.

“We have encountered problems with parents parking and picking up children from the school,” Richardson said. “Traffic backs up and impedes traffic on (N.C.) 16.”

The final vote was 3-0 with Commissioners Rhodes, Sands and Gary Roark voting in favor of providing the money. Commissioners Judy Porter Poe and Gerald Price were not in attendance for the meeting.

Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.