New traffic pattern tries to solve congestion problems


Garret O'Connor

Student parking lot.

Garret O'Connor, News Editor

Administration has altered the WA traffic pattern this year, adding more pickup & drop-off zones and a crosswalk in the student lot. The changes were pointed at reducing traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times to ensure the safety of pedestrian students.

At a school as large as Westford Academy, there is always gridlock during peak times before and after school. According to town engineer, Paul Starratt, the roads and driveways are capable of handling a normal amount of traffic, but struggle during the surges at the beginning and the end of the school day.

The new traffic pattern takes into account that congestion is unavoidable, and it prioritizes the realistic goal of spreading it out across the campus, so that any particular spot will not be a bottleneck. The marked pick-up and drop-off spots exist to focus parent traffic towards the back of the school as to not overlap with bus traffic in the front or students and faculty trying to park.

The school also wanted to address the danger inherent to trying to cross by the student parking lot. With both cars and pedestrians going every which way, the area was ripe for accidents—according to School Resource Officer Geoffrey Pavao, there were 8 collisions within the first week of the 2016-2017 school year. By implementing more drop-off areas and adding a crosswalk in the student parking lot, Westford Academy seeks to make students safer.

“Student safety is always a priority,” Starratt added.

Faculty and parents alike are optimistic about the new pattern, with some noting that they’ve already seen a decrease in congestion; however, the administration sent out a letter to student and parents regarding an altercation.

Many parents were dismayed to hear of the altercation, and expressed their agreement with the administration that compliance is essential for a functional traffic pattern.

“Yelling at a school official will not make matters better,” asserted Principal James Antonelli in the letter.

Dean of Students Bob Ware says that the new pattern will be safer and faster for everyone, and has complete faith in it.

“I believe the recommendations from the professional engineers will help with the new traffic system,” said Ware.

School Resource Officer Geoffrey Pavao thinks that more time needs to pass before conclusive results can be reached, but he is optimistic about it, citing a decrease in accidents already.

“I’m not saying it’s all because of the new traffic pattern, but something’s happening,” Pavao concluded.

Many parents have also noticed a marked improvement from last year, already citing reduced congestion. The general consensus among them is that congestion has decreased, and that it will continue to run smoothly as long as the rules are followed.

Westford Academy mother Pamela Tricca received a lot of support for her suggestion of a police detail at the intersection of Forge Village Road and Cold Spring Road. Antonelli replied that he was communicating with the Westford Police Department about it, but doesn’t know what will happen.

“The feedback that I got from parents was ‘thank you very much for trying to make the morning commute and afternoon commute better for us,'” said Antonelli.