With enrollment at more than 4,100 and rising in the Petal School District, officials have taken the last year or so to seek out a plot of land on which to build a new school – more than likely an elementary school – to accommodate that increasing number of students.
And while no decisions have been made in that process, officials are currently looking into land near Petal Primary School on Herrington Road to decide whether that could be a viable option. As part of that process, the district will soon work with engineers from Thompson Engineering of Mobile, Alabama, as well as the Mississippi Department of Transportation, to conduct a traffic analysis on Herrington Road for the purpose of possible roadway design.
At last week’s meeting of the Petal School District Board of Trustees, assistant district superintendent Andy Schoggin said the study would take about three months.
“So in week one, they come down and meet with MDOT officials, and they’re going to gather any data that MDOT has, and there’s certain points they’re really interested in,” he said. “There’s a point at Herrington and (Mississippi) 42, and then all of the drives – on Stadium Drive, the first- and second- grade drop-off, the kindergarten drop-off – so that you can collect information from there.
“They’ll even look at how long signal timing is, where you go east and west off Herrington, because that becomes an issue also. Then you go into accident reports – any other thing that MDOT is collecting.”
Week two would see officials on-site during peak traffic hours, during which time they would collect traffic counts at the various locations. In week three, engineers would take all the collected data to create a report on the area.
“Then from there, it’s probably about a three-month process from week one from the end, to where they feel like they can give us a report that (shows) some things we’re going to face,” Schoggin said. “We feel like we know that, but how are we going to mitigate those – what’s the roadway design, what do signal lights look like, what do turn lanes look like?
“I feel like we could go build some extra lanes, but I would rather have someone who does this professionally to give us a report. And I think that leads us into something we’re looking at with grant opportunities into the summer, where there’s a timeline for that – maybe this can give us the evidence that we need to have the foundation for that grant.”
Regardless of whether that site is chosen for the new school, officials expect the study to help with traffic planning on Herrington Road.
“I think that’s the key,” district superintendent Matt Dillon said. “Whether the campus is located there in the future or not, we’ve got to do something, rather than the makeshift road we have now.
“It’s serving its purpose now, and our (school resource officers) are doing an amazing job with that traffic. But we’ve got to look at the future, and this is something I think could be beneficial.”