As the school year begins – that means a return to early morning traffic along most of the City of Niceville’s roadways.
Plew Elementary and Niceville High School sit next to John Sims Parkway, Ruckel Middle School and Rocky Bayou Christian School have a school zone on Partin Drive and Edge has a school zone on SR-85.
Although the City of Niceville does not operate or otherwise have the ability to change anything about Okaloosa County School District operations – many times the topic of schools or the traffic they generate can come up in city council meetings.
“We’ve [been called] up to the high school numerous times because [cars] block John Sims all the way up to the stoplight. The schools were built before the city evolved. And the city grew up around the schools,” Popwell told the council. “We’ve tried funneling through the parking lots, and we’ve tried to get different traffic patterns.”
Popwell says there are two options, only one of which he says would be feasible. “The only other option we have is to go out and write citations to every car parked on [John Sims Parkway], because it’s against state law to stop on a state roadway.” The chief’s facial expression and the groans and murmurs from the audience made clear that wasn’t an option.
He says the best opportunity would be to encourage parents to have their kids ride the bus instead of taking them to the schools themselves. “It’s just an unfortunate event that back when schools were built, people rode buses and they walked. Now everybody, and I don’t mean this badly, because I probably did the same thing, but everybody takes their kid to school and drops them off. The roads just weren’t designed for that,” said Popwell.