LETTER: School traffic

Brian E. Stephens/Leavenworth

To the editor:

As someone who has worked to organize our community to partner with the school board and the city of Leavenworth to find solutions for the Henry Leavenworth school traffic, of course the article in the Saturday edition caught my attention and that of my neighbors. 

I appreciate that Jake Potter was not waving the “mission accomplished" banner while taking a victory lap, as the headline might have suggested. It was refreshing to read that the district is still observing the traffic patterns and considering solutions. After all, it was a multi-phased approach that was promised to my community at the June 14 board meeting. We were assured that conversations between the city of Leavenworth and the school board would continue and more solutions would be considered. We look forward to seeing the follow through on those promises, despite the responses our community received after noticing several continuing issues the bus lane did not seem to solve. These responses again pushed the responsibility on the city. The residents of West Limit Acres and Whispering Hills have only asked for the city, the board, engineers and the community to be involved in the conversation of solutions together, not as separate entities pointing fingers.

As shared with the city of Leavenworth and the school board, the last 10 years of traffic congestion at Henry has taken a significant toll on the only entrance and exit for the approximately 125 families living in the Whispering Hills subdivision. Our road (Vilas) is crumbling, especially on the side of the road occupied by the cars stacking to pick up students and the cars driving through the yards of our neighbors. This degradation of our road makes travel difficult during school arrival and dismissal times as well as any other time there is more than one vehicle traveling on Vilas or Limit. 

We (the citizens of West Limit Acres and Whispering Hills) are not pointing the blame at the school board or the city. Rather, we are simply asking to be part of the solution for the safety of our neighbors, the students’ families and staff of Henry Leavenworth, and the residential and commercial traffic entering our neighborhoods. Blame assignment solves absolutely nothing here, which is why we have been focused on solutions and why we appreciate the promises to continue conversations with stakeholders, including the citizens impacted.

The perspective of many in our community is that the bus lane has not resolved the traffic congestion in the morning with vehicles turning left from Vilas into the parking lot effectively blocking both lanes of traffic, the continued degradation of our road and soil leading to safety and environmental concerns, the routing of school traffic to Limit effectively blocking exit from our communities in the afternoons or the safety concerns of emergency response to our neighborhoods while the students are arriving or dismissing.

We have asked that the district consider preventing left turns in the morning, as they do in the afternoon. We have asked the city to consider a traffic study as well as a road safety study. We have asked for both the district and the school for a joint study session to discuss possible long-term solutions. We have asked the district to consider adjusting the limits to the busing of students, as there are many parents in these neighborhoods who would much rather bus their students to other schools with traffic issues (Warren, Lawson), but are on a waiting list because Easton can't serve our neighborhood or state requirements limits who may be transported by buses. We hope these requests are heard and incorporated in the ongoing evaluation of this situation.

– Brian E. Stephens/Leavenworth