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Entrance to Spotsy High is being lowered
AN IMPROVED ROAD is always
Last week, the Spotsylvania County School Board granted the Virginia Department of Transportation an easement to correct a dangerous situation at the main entrance to Spotsy High. Upgrades to the road out front (Fawn Lake Parkway) have created a steep embankment--one that could be difficult for young drivers to safely negotiate. The easement will allow VDOT to decrease the slope by about half.
Why VDOT didn't anticipate the problem is a mystery. The new road is 7 feet higher than the old Courthouse Road was. Entering Fawn Lake Parkway, which will have a posted speed limit of 55 mph once all the work is done, would be a challenge, especially for young drivers and especially at night or in bad weather.
Principal Rusty Davis reconfigured the parking areas so that students, about 125 of whom drive every day, would use a second entrance to Spotsylvania High from Post Oak Road. This was wise. And VDOT has installed flashing lights reducing the speed limit near the school to 35 mph during the hours when students are coming and going. That, too, will help.
Still, one can imagine that kids leaving or arriving at odd hours--say, late at night after a basketball game or after coming back from an away game--might well use the Fawn Lake Parkway entrance at a time when the road's speed limit is 55 mph. Therefore, it should be as safe as possible.
The steep grade of the main entrance is just part of the problem: Also of concern is the width of the turn lanes at the Post Oak Road entrance to Spotsylvania High. As School Board member Ray Lora points out, that entrance has to handle not only student and school bus traffic, but also 18-wheelers, as Spotsy High is the drop-off point for food for four schools. He thinks the turn-off should be four lanes wide, as it is at similarly designed Massaponax High School.
VDOT, before accepting the road from the contractor, should take another look at safety issues around Spotsylvania High. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that the crash rate among 16- to 19-year-old drivers is 2.7 times as high as the rate for drivers of all ages, and failure to yield the right of way is the second-most-common principal cause of those accidents. It is prudent, therefore, for adults to do whatever they can to lower the risks for young drivers.
Better to excavate more now to make the entrances safer than to be digging dirt later for a grave.