|Students cross from east to west across Menifee Road, with the "road closed" signs at the end of the current road not quite visible in the background.|
Roberson, 74, has worked for five years as an afternoon crossing guard at the intersection of Menifee Road and Aldergate Drive, helping students and parents cross the street from Freedom Crest Elementary School. He has decided to have a "wait and see" attitude about the effects of increased traffic at that intersection from the new stretch of Menifee Road, which will open after a brief ceremony at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
"This road leads to a stop sign in front of a school which already has horrible traffic issues and now you're going to add a busy traveled road on which people are going to fly through because they think it's a short cut," wrote one reader.
"My boys ride their bikes to the park by themselves because we don't get much traffic unless it's school time, but now people will be flying down Menifee Road," wrote another.
Granted, there will be much more traffic crossing through the school zone when the new road opens. Currrently, the north-south traffic at that intersection is primarily confined to drivers using the short stretch of Menifee Road right before the "road closed" sign to park and pick up students.
"I think they'll have to study it," said Jennifer Pignoni, the other crossing guard at that intersection. "Some don't want the road to open, but others do because of the convenience."
It's an issue city officials plan to monitor closely before deciding whether any action should be taken. There's no doubt the road is going through; now the decision becomes one of whether a traffic signal, additional crossing guards or additional traffic enforcement will be necessary.
City Manager Rob Johnson said Monday that City Engineer Jonathan Smith has discussed the situation with school district officials and that "generally speaking, a traffic study would be conducted as soon as the road is open to through traffic."
One step previously taken was instruction by police to the crossing guards to confine all pedestrian traffic crossing Menifee Road to the north crosswalk -- not the one nearest the school, where motorists often make U-turns to find a parking space.
For many, the opening of the half-mile stretch of Menifee Road from Simpson Avenue south to Aldergate Road is long overdue. Currently, drivers wanting to continue north or south on Menifee Road have to detour east to Lindenberger Road and Domenigoni Parkway.
While drivers get used to the new stretch of road and the value of a "short cut," city and school district officials urge them to use caution approaching that intersection.
"They're going to have to monitor it for at least a week," Roberson said. "A lot of people aren't aware of this road. Over a period of time, we'll have to see how they adjust to it being open."
|Looking northbound on Menifee Road from Aldergate Drive, one can see parked cars awaiting students just before the point where the current road is closed off.|
|This map shows the new stretch of Menifee Road in red, from its intersection with Simpson Avenue to the north to Aldergate Drive to the south. Freedom Crest Elementary is just southeast of the bottom of the map.|