News

TURNING INTO A PROBLEM

SONIA STANGENES

STAFF WRITER

7:55 a.m. and 3 p.m. are hectic times at Pinewood Upper Campus. In the mornings and afternoons, parents are rushing to get their kids to and from school. Unfortunately, the line of cars on Fremont Road during the peak traffic times has caused some annoyance among Los Altos Hills residents.

The Los Altos Town Crier recently published an article about Pinewood pick up and drop off causing congestion. Principal Mark Gardner gave his opinion on the issue.

“I think for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 or 15 minutes in the afternoon it can be a difficult situation for not only parents and students getting into our parking lot, but for local people to drive through the stop sign. You know, schools are schools. When they open, there’s going to be traffic. When they close, there’s going to be traffic,” Gardner said.

Pinewood has met with the sheriff, the city council, and the city planner to review options to decrease the traffic.  One proposal is the addition of a left turn lane. However, adding one would cut into the school’
s property and the pathway. While it would help alleviate some of the traffic, it may not be the most efficient choice since the traffic only lasts about 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon.

“To build a complete left turn lane in Los Altos Hills, which is a real
rural area … for basically 20 minutes a day, and yet have that lane sit there the other 24 hours, seems a little much,” Gardner said.

He believes the most plausible solution would be to have some parents drop off their kids earlier in the morning, and waiting to pick up the children later in the afternoon so that not everyone arrives at exactly the same time. Gardner has timed how long the wait in the morning takes to get into the school multiple times and has never had to wait more than three minutes. He says that it can seem longer if the driver is in a hurry.

“We want to be nice to our neighbors. That’s why we try to keep the noise down; we don’t allow outside announcements because we want to be cognizant of the people in the hills not hearing our announcements,” Gardner said.

Students like senior Kendall Cook are sometimes affected by traffic in
the morning.

“There are times when I’ve gone to Starbucks before school and then I’m here at 7:55, and the line is long and I start to freak out,” Cook said, “I see how it can be very annoying to those who are not trying to go into Pinewood, who are just trying to go by it.”

Parent Michelle Haifi-Giannopoulos is familiar with the struggle of having to wait through long lines to get into the Pinewood parking lot. With her children attending different schools, it is hard for her to drop them off early.

“I don’t think it’s all Pinewood. I think a lot of it is also that there’s so much construction going around with all the house remodels,” Haifi-Giannopoulos said.

The traffic around Pinewood School has been an issue for a long time, but it does not appear as if it will be completely fixed any time soon. However, parents and students
are encouraged by the school to arrive early in the mornings and later in the afternoon so that the traffic does not become quite so congested.

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