Public meeting planned to discuss safety improvements to road between two Winston-Salem schools

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WINSTON-SALEM. N.C. -- One of the more dangerous stretches for students – Northwest Boulevard between Wiley Middle and R.J. Reynolds High Schools in Winston-Salem – is getting closer to becoming safer; but the city and school system want the public’s input first.

The dangers of the road are apparent on every school day, as the students at both schools arrive and depart from their campuses. At these times, student and parent vehicles line the roads, as well as buses and motorists who use the stretch. City officials estimate that nearly 9,000 drivers make their way down that area of Northwest Boulevard every day.

“It’s congested, it’s just a lot of traffic,” said Martin French, who lives around the corner from the campuses. “It’s just a lot of kids walking around.”

The dangers were demonstrated on April 3, when a Wiley Middle School student was struck by a minivan.

“People are driving to work,” French added. “People are late to work and they’re driving fast to work.”

Before the accident happened, voters had already approved $2.5 million to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow around the campuses, as part of a larger bond package in November 2016.

“This is a thoroughfare that’s used by a significant number of people. All of our projects involve stakeholders, whether they’re students, or parents, or teachers or administrators,” said Colon Moore, director of construction planning for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. “In this instance we have those same stakeholders, but we also have the residents of Winston-Salem.”

On Wednesday, there will be a public meeting where people can look at the plans and proposals being considered. The plans, which are not finalized, will likely include a change in parking along the street, traffic flow, pedestrian crossings, crosswalk locations, access to crosswalks and changes to student drop-off and pick-up areas, the school system says.

“To put it in layman’s terms, the curb that is there now won’t change,” Moore said.

Traffic consultants, architects, representatives from the City of Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be present to answer questions and explain the options, as well as receive feedback.

“We value their input, we value their concern and we want to hear what they have to say,” Moore said.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, inside the R.J. Reynolds High School cafeteria, from 6-8 p.m.

The school system plans to complete the improvements before the closure of Business 40 in November 2018.

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