Officials discuss long running traffic problems at East Providence schools

EPPD representative suggests enforcement, informational efforts

By Mike Rego
Posted 11/21/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — One of the topics at the joint session held between the City Council and School Committee Tuesday night, Nov. 19, was traffic control at schools during drop-off and pick-up …

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Officials discuss long running traffic problems at East Providence schools

EPPD representative suggests enforcement, informational efforts

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — One of the topics at the joint session held between the City Council and School Committee Tuesday night, Nov. 19, was traffic control at schools during drop-off and pick-up times.

Sponsored by Ward 3 Councilman Nate Cahoon, the members of both bodies heard from Sergeant Mark Norton, representing the East Providence Police Department in his role as head of its Community Policing Unit.

While nothing was set in stone, the talk was used as a means of getting the word out to the public about the situation, which has caused consternation for school officials, police, parents and residents in the neighborhoods of the buildings.

Late in the discussion Ward 2 School Committee member Tony Ferreira said, “We basically put this city on notice. I would just recommend after we all just admitted, we have an extremely dangerous traffic situation around every one of our schools…Everybody sitting up here knows we have a nightmare of a traffic problem.”

To a member who spoke, each acknowledged the long-running saga of cars packing streets nearby schools at the busiest times of the day. Mr. Cahoon, while introducing the agenda items, said he’s recently been informed of the difficulties in the mornings, especially, at the Oldham Early Learning Center in Riverside, but has long been aware of a similar situation at Kent Heights Elementary.

He asked simply at one point, “Is it an enforcement issue?”

To which Sgt. Norton responded, in part, “A lot of the issues, too, are there’s too many cars and not enough space. We’ll be happy to go out there and enforce.”

Sgt. Norton said a like matter arose earlier this fall at Orlo Avenue Elementary School where vehicles were situated on both sides of the roads dropping off students. In response, the EPPD, he said, had “zero tolerance…We started ticketing people and we’ve had no issue there since…We don’t like to ticket people, but it’s the only way to get results.”

Sgt. Norton explained the drop-off period is a particularly difficult, and busy, one for the police. The department is a bit understaffed in mornings because officers need to attend court proceedings. As well, those on duty must also respond to traffic accidents and as businesses open they often are called to answer security alarms.

“We do our best to have officers at schools where there are problem areas,” he said.

The individual schools and the district administration, he continued, could do their part by informing adults about best parking practices at the commencement of classes and dismissal.

“We will gladly respond. We have officers out there monitoring the situation as best we can,” Sgt. Norton added.

Other schools discussed included Martin Middle and Waddington Elementary. Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley surmised the difficulty specifically at Oldham, noting now without busing, that some 60 cars are dropping and picking up pre-school aged pupils.

Though the police received a recent complaint about Waddington, she said to date traffic issues have been “very good this year,” but “now that it’s getting colder it may be a little more difficult and we’ll monitor it closer.”

Of Martin, Sgt. Norton said there was a problem last year with adults parking on both sides of Brown Street, but after an enforcement effort, i.e. ticketing, the congestion has been alleviated.

Superintendent Crowley closed the discussion saying the school administration would shortly arrange a meeting with Sgt. Norton to discuss all traffic patterns at buildings.

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