Ottawa High School navigates first day with nearby bridge construction – Shaw Local
The Ottawa High School has been working with the Ottawa Police Service since late July to plan traffic to and from the school in regards to the ongoing construction work on the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
That careful planning paid off Tuesday, Superintendent Michael Cushing said.
The superintendent said the year had started as well as it could, given the circumstances.
Ottawa Police have issued and will continue to use more patrols around Ottawa High School as it enters its first weeks of school.
Chief Brent Roalson said additional resources would be needed to help keep traffic flowing amid construction taking place one block west of the school on Route 23.
“We anticipate the biggest flow will be after school when people are trying to leave,” Roalson said. “It’s sporadic when they first arrive. There is a delay between different vehicles, children get dropped off or cross the line of students to walk from the parking lots. But at the end of the day, when everyone is cleared, that’s when heavy traffic will affect both the east side and downtown until we clear them out.
The new plan makes changes from the old one: students are now dropped off in the student parking lot to prevent Main Street traffic and no one picks up or drops off in the west parking lot. The school has also created a bus lane.
“The other big part of the change is that there are certain times during arrival and departure when traffic is prohibited from heading west on Main Street,” Cushing said. “It takes everyone from East Main Street to Green Street.”
From there, drivers will end up on Chicago Road and eventually on US 6.
Roalson said he anticipates police will have to build on this plan to organize patrols along Chicago Road and US 6 to reduce traffic in the downtown area.
“It’s all going to be a smooth plan and we’ll reevaluate in a week and work with the school and the Illinois Department of Transportation in addition to the contractors to make sure we’re meeting what we need and meeting our expectations,” Roalson said. .
Road construction along Route 23 and the Veterans Memorial Bridge is expected to be completed by the fall, and Roalson expects police to have more patrols to help drivers navigate around it in October.
“I want to commend the great plan they’ve put in place and for their help and collaboration,” Cushing said. “I can’t say enough about our School Resource Officers. They’ve just been outstanding at directing traffic. We also appreciate the cooperation and patience of East Side drivers and residents.
Cushing said the first day of school, in general, felt like a very welcome return to normal, even with the traffic complications.