At the intersection of 17th Avenue and 15th Street Wednesday morning, cars navigate to and from Mickelson Middle School. Traffic for Mickelson and Camelot Intermediate School is being affected by the partial closure of Christine Avenue as part of the Camelot Square Drainage Improvement Project. Photo by Charis Prunty/Register
• Drainage project slowing traffic to and from school
BROOKINGS – Some streets are torn up and traffic is backed up around Camelot and Mickelson schools in Brookings right now, thanks to a big drainage project that has closed down much of a key street in the area.
Many are also wondering how a significant new apartment complex directly south of Mickelson will affect traffic there. And, the district’s pre-kindergarten special education program is now based at Mickelson, on the west side of the school, adding even more cars to the mix each morning and afternoon.
Especially during these first few days of school, parents should plan ahead and leave extra time to drop off or pick up their students, school officials say.
“We have encouraged parents to start out earlier; leave an extra 10 minutes or five minutes, because students can come into the building when parents drop them off and they’re supervised,” said Melinda Jensen, new principal of Mickelson Middle School.
On the first day of school Wednesday, traffic was congested outside Mickelson heading to the south on 17th Avenue, and heading west on 15th Street South.
More apartments planned
New apartments south of the school – built on land that has been empty up to now – already have some tenants who may be adding to the traffic. More apartments are planned to sit directly east of these along 15th Street South, a subsidized housing project called Prairie View Apartments, which would add even more traffic to the area.
But for now, the extra traffic outside Mickelson seems to be mainly connected to the traffic outside Camelot Intermediate School. One main route to Camelot, Christine Avenue, is torn up for the Camelot Square Drainage Project.
Also known as the Hammond Avenue and Horner Avenue Project, the Camelot Square Drainage Project is designed to control localized flooding in those areas as well as on Squire Court.
Streets and boulevards are being excavated to make water and sewer utility adjustments along Christine Avenue between 11th Street South and 15th Street South, and along 12th Street South from the east Squire Court entrance to Christine Avenue.
City Engineer Jackie Lanning has encouraged drivers to avoid Christine Avenue and 12th Street South during the storm sewer construction. That means families can mainly access Camelot from the east, via 17th Avenue, and from the west, via Medary Avenue South. On both routes, they’ll likely run into traffic heading to and from Mickelson.
Tuesday afternoon, Camelot principal Dave Fiedler was happy to hear that road crews would also have Christine Avenue open to Yorktown Drive, giving cars another outlet to Medary Avenue from the school.
“They promised by the end of the day that it was going to be graveled and we were going to be able to drive down Yorktown,” Fiedler said Tuesday.
“They’ve been watching out for us,” Fiedler said of the road crews. “Best they can do – we can’t have everything go perfect on the first day of school.”
Fiedler said drivers can use the stretch of Christine Avenue that lies directly west of Camelot, though it looks like a dirt path right now. That path will connect to Yorktown Drive and allow them to go west to Medary Avenue.
“It’s going to be interesting because no one is going to want to drop their kids off on the west side because of all that mud and gravel on there, but it will be open,” Fiedler said.
New zone open
Mickelson has tried to alleviate some traffic by opening up a new drop-off zone in its east parking lot. Parents can’t park there, but they can pull in and unload or load kids, Jensen said. Two of the school’s four open doors are on the east side. Jensen also suggested that parents could pull into an open parking lot along 17th Avenue and let children walk the rest of the way to school.
Mickelson has cautioned students to not walk or ride a bike or skateboard through its parking lot, however, but to stay safe by sticking to the sidewalks.
Jensen said new Mickelson assistant principal Tim Steffensen monitored traffic Wednesday morning and noticed that traffic was very congested for about 12 minutes.
“For what it is, it went really well,” Jensen said of Wednesday. “It is what it is, and we’ve only got that one out in the south parking lot.”
She again noted that parents should try to allow extra time for the trip.
“I hope people will just pack their patience with them,” she added.
Find regular updates about the Camelot Square Drainage Improvement Project at www.cityofbrookings.org/index.aspx?NID=221.
Contact Charis Prunty at firstname.lastname@example.org.