Highway Department discusses school safety

Photo By Kristen Luther
Donna Foster, cafeteria manager at Valley Forge Elementary School, opens the kitchen door directly into oncoming traffic at the school. School officials are contemplating placing speed bumps or cautionary signs in the area.

  By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  The Carter County Highway Committee filtered through complaints and questions on Monday afternoon during its monthly meeting. Representatives from the Carter County Board of Education approached the committee and Highway Superintendent Jack Perkins about congestion and safety hazards at Valley Forge Elementary School.
  According to Director of Schools Dallas Williams and Kevin Ward, director of maintenance and safety, a narrow road on the campus of Valley Forge Elementary is a safety hazard for students as well as faculty. The road ascends a hill beside the school, and a door from the kitchen opens directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
  School Board member for the Valley Forge district Bobby McClain said a cafeteria worker was almost hit by a car recently, prompting the call for a solution. Ward asked the committee and Perkins whether the road was listed on the county's road map or if the road was considered school property.
  Perkins told school representatives the road belongs to the school system and they are free to place speed bumps or a cautionary sign in the vicinity. McClain said the school board has considered closing the road, but said, "If we close that road then we're really going to have (congestion) problems."
  Perkins addressed another issue at Valley Forge Elementary concerning traffic congestion, including that of school buses, when turning left onto U.S. Highway 19-E. Perkins said he would contact the local state Department of Transportation to see about enforcing a school speed limit or another method to decrease congestion on U.S. Highway 19-E during peak hours of school traffic.
  In other business, Daniel Lyons, 106 Lynn View Circle, told the committee Lynn View Circle has not been paved in the past 30 years and a highway crew that attempted to repair the damaged road said no repairs can be made and the only solution is to re-pave the road. Perkins said the area has pre-existing water problems that an engineering firm has been studying. Two false drains in the area cause standing water during a rainstorm.
  Committee member Jack Buckles said if the road is paved before the water problem is fixed, then the problem could return, causing more damage to the road.
  Lyons said, "If I can't get it done I will be forced to go to John Paul Mathes and file a civil suit."
  Commissioner John Lewis asked the committee for a recommendation for a turning lane to be constructed on U.S. Highway 67 at the U.S. Highway 321 intersection near Little Milligan. The recommendation will be sent to TDOT officials who will hopefully create a turning lane similar to the one under construction at the Carden's Bluff Campground at Watauga Lake.