Middle School Change Hopes To Ease Congestion During Mornings

Middle School Change Hopes To Ease Congestion During Mornings
After dropping off their students at Stephen Decatur Middle School, parents must now turn right onto Seahawk Road rather than left toward the high school and Route 50. Photo by Steve Green

BERLIN – A new traffic pattern at Stephen Decatur Middle School is aimed at reducing morning congestion along Seahawk Road.

Motorists leaving Stephen Decatur Middle in the morning are no longer allowed to turn left toward Route 50. The change is meant to eliminate some of the gridlock along Seahawk Road, according to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s probably the most congested school in the entire county,” said Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Mike Valerio said. “We needed to make some changes to alleviate that congestion.”

Parents were advised last week that the morning drop-off traffic pattern would be changing at the school May 1. Traffic exiting the drop-off loop must now turn right toward Flower Street.

“Please be patient with the implementation of this new traffic pattern,” a message to parents read. “Allow extra time for the first few days until everyone gets used to the change. Student drop-off and students walking from across the road will be safer and more efficient. Thank you for working with us to keep everyone safe.”

Valerio said the congestion along Seahawk Road had been a problem for some time. Representatives of the sheriff’s office met with Worcester County Public Schools officials as well as the middle school’s principal to figure out a way to improve the situation.

“Hundreds of cars are dropping off and there’s other traffic that passes through that corridor as well,” Valerio said.

He said the sheriff’s office had already stopped buses staging on Seahawks Road and the best alternative at this point to further reduce congestion was to force exiting vehicles to turn right, either to turn onto Flower Street or continue on Seahawk, Mary or Assateague roads.

“The intent isn’t to put more traffic on Flower Street, it’s to prevent congestion,” Valerio said.

He added that drop-off wouldn’t be so congested if more students rode the bus.

“One other thing that could help us is students utilizing school bus services,” Valerio said. “School bus traffic is prioritized.”

He noted that the sheriff’s office already had all of its crossing guards stationed at Stephen Decatur Middle School during drop-off. When asked how the change in the traffic pattern would impact parents who dropped students off at the middle school and the high school, Valerio said they’d just have to drop the high school student off first.

“We’re trying to make this change to make it more efficient,” he said. “Efficiency and safety is key.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.