PORTLAND, Texas — To start the school year, parents of WC Andrews Elementary School students in Portland have dealt with traffic along Moore Ave. during pick-up and drop-off times.
“Of course, parents want to be the first to get their kids out of school, but sometimes you just can’t do it, you have to wait,” said Paula Porter, the great-grandmother of WC Andrews students. “They double-park, they’ll just park right in the middle of the street.”
“People cut lines, and it takes up so much more time. I think it’s just ridiculous,” said Hannah Huffman, a mother of an Andrews student.
The traffic back-up is causing issues on Moore Ave., which is a busy road on its own. Double-parked cars cause traffic to travel into oncoming lanes to get around traffic, and requires some parents to try to make left-hand turns where they can’t see oncoming vehicles.
“It’s dangerous to the kids, it’s dangerous to other drivers, especially the ones going on past the school,” Porter said.
The district is aware of the issues parents are facing at WC Andrews, and officials say it’s not a new phenomenon. Crystal Matern, the chief communication and engagement officer for GPISD said since the school opened in 2019, the school has this issue the first couple weeks of each school year.
“Generally speaking, those first couple of days as we start school at the beginning of the year, those car rider lines can be a bit longer, as people are learning the procedures, and a lot of times we have new families coming in”
This year there are even more parents, because the school has grown in enrollment from last year. As of Thursday, WC Andrews has an enrollment of 619 from Pre K to 5th grade, up from 547 students a week into last year’s school year; a 13% increase.
Matern does not expect the long lines to continue much longer.
“Our families have down a marvelous job improving that wait time, and improving those processes in the last week,” she said. “So, we know going forward, the issue will probably be resolved in a couple of days, as it shakes out.”
At Andrews, the staff has been working on ways to alleviate traffic during high-volume times. Last year, the school added a second pick-up and drop-off location, utilizing both the parking lots at the school. Additionally, staff has instructed parents to stay in their cars when picking up their children, and moving car seats to the driver’s side of their cars, to speed up pick-ups and drop-offs.
“It’s really important families pay attention to those notifications from the school, and also follow those procedures,” Matern said.
Additionally, Portland Police Department sends officers to help direct traffic, which helps move the flow along more smoothly.
“Police officers are not out there every day, but they do come out there to support staff as needed and as able, certainly, here at the beginning of the year, as everyone is learning those procedures,” Matern said. “It’s not uncommon to see police officers out there and assisting with traffic, especially in that area on the major thoroughfare, as we wait for a long term solution.”
GPISD is working with TxDOT for a solution to Moore Ave. that will be a long-term fix to the traffic issue. However, Matern said talks are still ongoing, and ultimately, it’s TxDOT’s decision what to do with the road. It could be a long time before any solution is realized and implemented.
“In the meantime, what we’re most concerned about is the short-term, and that really comes down to communication between families, between staff, and partnering together so we can make sure that wait time is short,” Matern said.
Matern urges any parents with questions, concerns, or ideas to alleviate the traffic to reach out the principal of WC Andrews via email.