Editorial: Caught in the quagmire around the schools

Posted 12/16/22

All of Barrington’s six schools have traffic challenges during the morning rush hour and afternoon dismissal. Best are the three elementary schools, which of course have the smallest student …

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Editorial: Caught in the quagmire around the schools

Posted

All of Barrington’s six schools have traffic challenges during the morning rush hour and afternoon dismissal. Best are the three elementary schools, which of course have the smallest student bodies and the fewest number of commuters.

The congestion increases as students age and the town’s entire student body begins congregating in one building. It’s almost like families pass from one level of congestion to another as their children matriculate through the school system.

Hampden Meadows can be a quagmire, especially after school. The entire grid surrounding Barrington Middle School can grind to a halt, especially at the Lincoln Avenue-Middle Highway traffic light. And the clogged roadways around Barrington High School are both aggravating and dangerous, as pedestrians, cyclists and hundreds of teen drivers pour into the same tiny footprint on top of each other.

In a nation reeling from a global pandemic, political turmoil and environmental threats, it seems trivial to complain about 20 minutes of traffic, but these are the little things that impact quality of life, stress and yes, even mental health, in our community.

Despite an increase in all these traffic problems over the past several years — all of it exacerbated by Covid and unfriendly busing regulations — nothing has been done to improve or even attempt to address the congestion. The schools and police have enforced mild improvements in safety — no more parking at the post office across the street from the middle school! — but they have done very little to improve the general flow of traffic. Families have simply learned to live with the annoying pain points of school dropoff and pickup.

We don’t know how to solve all the problems, but we know it begins by at least acknowledging there are problems. If the school district and town government wanted to change things for the better, they might start with a healthy brainstorming session; and remember, when brainstorming, no idea is a bad idea.

Therefore, could Barrington …

  • Create ridership programs, maybe with incentives, to put kids back on buses? (It seems crazy to spend millions of dollars each year to motor around town with half-empty school buses.)
  • Turn the Upland Way intersection into a small rotary?
  • Enforce a one-way-only, lefthand-turn-only out of the middle school’s Lincoln Avenue entrance?
  • Inspire more carpooling, with lessons built around positive environmental behaviors?
  • Create another entrance into the high school complex? (Why, exactly, have we wrapped our prestigious high school in six-foot-high chainlink fence on two sides?)
  • Create reasons, and structure, for students to enter the buildings earlier in the morning, thus stretching out the “drop-off” window and easing the crush of everyone arriving at the exact same moment?

These aren’t the biggest problems in Barrington, but they are problems. Perhaps there is a will to fix them.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.