Population growth leads to more traffic problems
Posted 10:14 a.m. Saturday, September 17, 2022
By Jillian Haskin
Mall students who live near PRC High School leave their homes until twenty minutes before the first bell rings at 7:35 a.m., signaling the start of the most intense battle of the day. Grabbing a burrito for breakfast, spilling coffee, or dropping off siblings are common dilemmas students normally face. What is not normal, but which has become so, is the eight to 10 minute wait we experience once we are already on Hwy 11 a few feet from campus at the start of school.
“It’s like holding your breath until you get to the door,” says Madelyn Boudreaux, a senior at PRCHS. Although she “arrives” at 7:15 a.m., her foot usually does not cross the threshold until about 7:30 a.m. “Just let me in!”
As if there weren’t enough driving problems in the area already. Sure, adding lanes on Highway 11 helped, but the new “median” next to Sonic in Picayune doesn’t allow for easy navigation through town. The new median makes practical access to businesses nearly impossible; Learner drivers now face added tension during what should be a simple ride to get a 50-cent corn dog. Add to that ridiculous gas prices and the experience is less than ideal.
But I digress.
There are several reasons for the current traffic problem, many of which that are beyond anyone’s control.
Agents such as Brandon Herrin and Lamar Thompson, who monitor traffic in middle and high schools, can easily come to a consensus about the nature of the traffic problem; a high population, the lack of a left-turn lane at the college, and a highway that’s just not wide enough to accommodate the sea of cars driven by students and parents. As if middle and high school traffic weren’t enough, at 7:00 a.m. the elementary school drop-off begins at the same time, jamming traffic from three schools at once. The proximity of these times is a logistical nightmare.
The morning traffic chaos only seeps into the afternoon pickup traffic with a more distinct coating. There is a seemingly endless chain of buses and cars. Starting my next assignment is just one of the tasks allowed by the circulation time slots.
Navigating the student parking lot after layoff is equally stressful. With a limited number of parking spaces, the PRCHS parking lot is not exactly what most would call “spacious”. Still, not all traffic problems can be blamed on the size of the car park. Sometimes it’s just a matter of “slowness”. Whether it’s derived from the sleepy thickness that blankets a county like ours, freezing it into a slow trance of charming southern molasses or just the stark fact that many people probably have to retake their driving test, say that traffic here is slow is an understatement.
Expecting to get through PRCHS traffic quickly is like expecting snow in September in southern Mississippi. And the maximum expected next week is 96 degrees.