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Schools, city differ on exit strategy

School and city officials don't agree on whether a parking lot exit at New Richmond High School should remain as it is or be changed to allow for left-hand turns.

At Monday's regular New Richmond City Council meeting, District Superintendent Morrie Veilleux requested the city reconsider its stance that the exit to the east of the main high school entrance on Richmond Way remain right-turn only.

The road's median is closed at that spot, forcing motorists to head to the east. There is no easy way for motorists to turn around, however, if they want to head in the other direction.

Hillside Elementary Principal Frank Norton reported that he regularly sees vehicles making illegal u-turns, or sees motorists using Hillside's parking areas to turn around.

The district is concerned for the safety of students when motorists get turned around and try to figure out ways to head in the opposite direction.

Norton suggested the city either allow cars to take a left-hand turn out of the exit, or provide a better way for vehicles to turn around after initially heading east.

City Engineer and Street Superintendent Dan Koski said allowing for left-hand turns at that exit would cause safety concerns for young drivers.

"We do remain strongly convinced that the median needs to be closed," he said.

As the exit is currently set up, traffic engineer Glen Van Wormer from Short Elliot Hendrickson expressed that safety level is high. If left-hand turns are eventually allowed there, drivers will face numerous potential conflicts that could lead to crashes.

Norton said the safety concerns are lessened because of the lower traffic speeds through the area.

"I would like to see this open and see what happens," he said.

Van Wormer suggested the city try better signage in the school's parking lot, to see if more motorists can be directed to use the main entrance at the stop lights.

"I think we have some other options to do something," he said.

The matter was forwarded to the streets committee, which will meet with school officials to discuss possible solutions to the issue. The council will then consider any recommendations the group may come up with.