RIVIERA BEACH — Drivers still wait in lines of traffic and obey police to reach the new Suncoast High School in the mornings.
But some residents say the Suncoast traffic is flowing better than it was during the first few hectic days of the school year. And the school district says the traffic jam between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. will be eased in mid-October, when a wider section of West 13th Street is scheduled to open.
Still, some residents remain frustrated by the congested mass of cars winding through their residential streets.
“It’s crazy,” said Erica Gonder, a parent who lives on 13th Street near the Suncoast entrance. “It’s not that we don’t want the school there. They should take a better route.”
Terrence Houvouras, a father of three who lives on 13th Street, worries about cars speeding by his house while his sons play basketball in the driveway.
Houvouras and other residents want speed bumps to be restored when the wider stretch of 13th Street near the school entrance is completed. The school district is not planning speed bumps, nothing that they pose problems for school buses.
“Their only concern is making everyone at Suncoast comfortable,” said Annette Simpson, a 13th Street resident who attended an Aug. 24 meeting with district officials to discuss traffic around the new school. Simpson says speed bumps are needed – especially now that the road in front of her house will be wider and filled with young drivers headed for Suncoast.
Riviera Beach officials are irked, too.
The city withheld water and sewer permits for the new high school last year because the district had failed to make road improvements to handle Suncoast traffic. The utility permits were granted in January after the city and district approved an agreement that called for several improvements: two stoplights, turn lanes on Congress Avenue and a widening of the stretch of 13th Street between Congress Avenue and Jake Lane.
The road work was supposed to have been completed Aug. 1. The city and the school district are working to extend the deadline to Jan. 7.
City officials also are negotiating with the district to pay for the hours that six Riviera Beach police officers spend directing traffic to and from Suncoast.
The acclaimed high school sits on a 70-acre campus that includes John F. Kennedy Middle School and Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary. The high school serves 1,394 students.
To reduce the number of students walking through construction and traffic to reach the three schools, the district recently added bus routes to pick up students at the Spinnaker Landing and Marsh Harbour developments west of Congress Avenue.
But on a recent morning, a student dressed in khaki trousers and a white shirt walked, apparently late for school, around backhoes and bulldozers working on 13th Street near the Suncoast entrance.
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