EARLY City, police and school officials hope a fairly simple solution will help alleviate a big problem with traffic congestion near three Early schools.
Officials have decided to turn the T-intersection at Sudderth Drive and Sunrise Street which is between the middle school and elementary school into a three-way stop.
Currently, only traffic on Sunrise has a stop sign, where it intersects with Sudderth, forming the T. Beginning Monday, traffic on Sudderth on either side of the intersection will also have stop signs, officials said.
Motorists who turn right onto Sudderth drive past the elementary school. Motorists who turn left on Sudderth drive past the parking lots for the middle and high schools until reaching the traffic light at the Early Boulevard intersection.
When school isn't in session, the intersection is benign and sees little traffic. But when school is about to start in the mornings and after school dismisses in the afternoon, "it's worse than downtown Dallas," Early Police Chief David Mercer said. "It's horrible. We get traffic backed up as far as the high school up on the hill."
Morning and afternoon congestion will likely be worse this year because the elementary and middle schools will begin and end at the same time, rather than at staggered times as in previous years, officials said.
City, police and school officials recently met and hashed over ideas, City Administrator Ken Thomas said.
Mercer said the idea of creating a three-way stop sign is "the easiest and one that will work best."
Thomas, Mercer and Code Enforcement Officer Larry McConn took media representatives to the intersection for a first-hand observation.
At the intersection, Mercer said:
"We've added these two stop signs for Sudderth Drive. Hopefully it will help traffic exiting from Sunrise be able to get out during the heavy traffic times in the mornings and the afternoons.
"We get a lot of (traffic) backup with (parents) dropping off and and picking up kids, and now the schools will be on the same time schedule, which will make the traffic probably a little heavier. So we're hoping that this will help alleviate some of the pressure and let the traffic kind of flow around these school buildings a little bit more."
Early Elementary School principal Aletha Patterson said parents "pay close attention and follow all of the directions when they're dropping off or picking up their children.
But the creation of the three-way stop will be beneficial, Patterson said, and will make the area around the intersection safer
"The children crossing the roads are going to have a better access and a safer access to the campuses," Patterson said. "We always let the older kids drop off at our school and walk across the street. These stop signs should make this a safer happening for the students. even though we do have crossing guards."
Ken Parson, dean of students at the middle school, said with the simultaneous school start and end times, "we're going to have more problems here with the parents trying to get their kids to school, so we're trying to keep everybody as safe as possible."
Glenn Coles, a 1979 Brownwood graduate, will be starting his first year as middle school principal. Coles hasn't been there in previous years to see the congestion. But he anticipates that the three-way stop sign will be beneficial.
"I think the stop signs will help that as it gives a natural break in the flow," Coles said. "We'll just see how it goes the first few days and see what if any adjustments we need to make."