New road
Shelby City Schools are looking at adding a road off of State Street to ease traffic flow when the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school opens in 2022. Superintendent Tim Tarvin provided the details recently to the Shelby Board of Education.

SHELBY — When it comes to motorists along with residents near schools' campus off Smiley Avenue, a plan is emerging to handle increased traffic when the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school opens in 2022.

Initially, officials had proposed relieving traffic along Smiley Avenue in front of the campus by directing some traffic through Plymouth Street on the back part of the campus near the current tennis courts, softball and baseball facilities and track.

As part of that proposal, the district was looking at building an S-shaped road that would come in off Plymouth and help bring traffic into the new school that is scheduled to open in September 2022.

Due to concerns about that, including proposed traffic-flow/stop-sign directional changes along Plymouth, that initial plan is being shelved. In its place is a proposed new road that would be built to bring traffic onto the campus from State Street north of the campus site.

“For the time being, we are going to set aside the S-(road),” Tarvin told the Shelby Board of Education on Oct. 18 in discussing the initial Plymouth Street option.

“Our plan is to work on putting a road in from State Street," he said of the new effort being pursued. "It’s going to come down alongside where the new baseball field is being built. It’s going to turn east and come out where the entrance is to go back to the VO-AG barn.”

“The idea would be that we would funnel car traffic, rather than off Plymouth and through the neighborhoods,” Tarvin said. “We won’t have car traffic for school in the morning or in the afternoon coming in or out of  Plymouth Street to the campus.”

Tarvin said this would also reduce school-related traffic along nearby neighborhood streets such as Jeffery, Shelby and Sunset.

As for the new road and travel times to the campus, “we drove it,” Tarvin detailed. “It’s a longer drive but not by more than a minute-and-a-half.”

Tarvin described how the proposed new road would bring traffic onto the campus.

“Picture in your mind if you are heading out north on Gamble,” he said. “Rather than turning left on Plymouth, you continue on to State, turn left, go on out until you can see our property to your left. The road would come in right there, right across from the solar farms. You’d turn left there and turn south, go around the baseball field, in front of the Vo-Ag barn and enter right onto the Championship Drive.”

Championship Drive runs between the high school and the current middle school from the track all of the way to Smiley Avenue.

“When I make the trip that we are proposing making, it is going to be a little bit longer but not 5 minutes longer,” Tarvin said. “It’s a minute-and-half to 2 minutes tops.”

He added: “The most important piece is that you are not going to funnel hundreds of cars through residential neighborhoods between 7 o’clock and 7:45 in the morning and then again at 2:30 in the afternoon to 3 o’clock in the afternoon. People are trying to get their homes. You have kids walking. At this time of year, it’s dark in the morning.”

Tarvin is upbeat on the plan for the new road, which is envisioned to be two lanes with an asphalt surface on property the school district already owns.

“We’ve done this because we think it’s the right thing to do not only for making traffic run smoother, but we believe it’s part of our responsibility to be as good as neighbors as we possibly can to all of those people who live on Sunset, who live on Shelby, who live on Jeffery, who come down Plymouth," Tarvin said of the plan for the new road.

The Shelby school district is “90 percent confident” that the new road will happen, Tarvin told the school board.

“We have the OFCC’s blessing,” he said of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. “Now it’s just a matter of working with the engineers to get this road put in. Our intention is to have that completed by schools opening next Sept. 6.”

In an interview, Tarvin detailed how the road would be financed. Tarvin said that $600,000 is set aside in the new school's construction budget for a “site-safety" allowance. "We are going to use that $600,000 to put this road in," Tarvin said. "The state is going to put in $300,000 and then the school district puts in $300,000. But that money is already built into the construction project. We don't have to come up with $300,000. It's already there...All of the money is already allocated. It's built into the PK-8 budget."

"There is no additional cost to the school district or to taxpayers to put that road in," Tarvin also said in the interview.

At the Oct. 18 Shelby Board of Education meeting, School Board President Lorie White asked about when motorists would use Plymouth to reach the back part of the campus to park for an athletic event, for example.

“It will still be open if there's a tennis match, a softball game, a track meet,” Tarvin responded in describing the proposed traffic flow. “They can come into those parking lots in the afternoon, but they can’t cut all of the way through to Championship Drive to the auxiliary gym or to the high school. It will deter some people from coming in that way in and of itself."

“You’ll still have people coming in and parking in those two lots, but a lot of the people who come in are through traffic,” Tarvin said. “They don’t just park at a tennis match or softball game. It’s through traffic to the baseball field or to the high school, or the aux gym, that sort of thing.”

The proposal eliminates through traffic in the mornings and afternoons. “People will still be able to use that to get to the tennis courts, and the softball field and even the track, the field house,” Tarvin added.

School Board member Scott Rose asked about school bus traffic.
“The buses will still come off of Smiley and come up Championship Drive,” Tarvin responded. “There are two parking lots that will be in front of the (pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade) building. They will pull in one of those parking lots. There will be a bus loop within the parking lot.”

Tarvin added: “The idea is to bring all parent traffic, car traffic, student traffic in off of State, down that road and into the parking lots. It will be nice because when they get to just past south of the VO-AG barn and you’re on Championship Drive, it will be really pretty simple."

"You’ll turn right into the high school or you are going to turn left into the PK-8 (pre-kindergarten through-eighth-grade school)," he said. "You’re going to drop your child off at the PK-8. You’ll go back out the same way you came in. If you’re coming into the high school, you can drop off and head out Whippet Way.”

Overall, Tarvin calls the proposed road a win-win for everybody.

“Particularly the residents who live in those neighborhoods to the east of us and certainly for the walkers,” he said. “It makes their walk to school much safer. We don’t think that adding a couple of minutes on to someone’s morning commute is too unreasonable.”

Tarvin had noted community concerns about increased traffic from the new school, which will combine Dowds Elementary School, Auburn Elementary School and Shelby Middle School in the same region that already is home to Shelby High School and the future Whippets athletic facility.

“And rightfully so,” he said. “There is a lot of concern on people’s part in the community (saying), ‘Boy there’s going to be a lot of traffic cutting through.’ This is going to take care of that.”

Tarvin later said: “We’re trying to give our folks here in the community multiple options. And this one (new road) is great because it doesn’t disrupt traffic through the neighborhoods at all. For an extra 2 minutes of driving, I think it’s worth the sacrifice.”

Scott Harvey, the Shelby school district's director of buildings, grounds and safety, noted the significance of the state’s support for the new road.

“That’s a plus, too, that they felt it was that important that they’re helping support on our property, which they usually don’t do,” Harvey told the school board.

“They usually do not support on your property helping with safety as far as they will only support on the road (work) or doing a turn lane,” Harvey said.

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