Union County roads present danger to parents - myfoxcarolinas.com

Union County roads present danger to parents

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Last week, My Fox Carolinas' Digital Journalist Caroline Fountain spoke with a member of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol on the dangers of secondary roads in Union County.

"A lot of these back roads are just not built for that many people and there's no shoulders on a lot of the roads in Union County," trooper John Burgin said.

Since that story, we have received dozens of emails from parents saying that these roads are one of the primary concerns during the ongoing debate of school redistricting in Union County.

The Board of Education passed a motion that originally was going to shift nearly 6,000 students. That number is now estimated to be almost half that with "grandfathering" of high school students and students finishing their last year of elementary and middle school an option.

But those getting grandfathered must provide their own transportation, if they choose that option.

Citizens for Adequate Public School crunched numbers and estimates that am additional 4,300,000 miles per year will be put on cars with redistricting. They say those extra miles, bring more chances of accidents.

"An inexperienced driver is going to have a hard time, nevermind they're going to be coming up against buses and other traffic," C.A.P.S. member Katherine Condon said.

Condon is a plaintiff on the lawsuit filed against Union County Public School and the B.O.E. They have a hearing for the lawsuit on Monday, March 24. Condon and her daughter have each been in separate accidents coming from school.  Her daughter's accident occurred on a bus.

Melissa Merrell says she has a predicament. Her oldest son goes to Porter Ridge High and will continue going there next year through the grandfathering process. However, she has a son at Porter Ridge Middle that will be transferred to Piedmont Middle -- three-times the distance from their home.

Piedmont territory is known for more rural roads and even more narrow shoulders than the Porter Ridge area. She fears for her son's safety traveling on a wide bus over narrow roads and will drive the hour-long commute in the mornings and afternoons to get her son to-and-from school. She also plans on taking her oldest son to Porter Ridge until he gets his driver's license.

The way roads are constructed, obviously, does not fall on the shoulders of the school district. Still, people like Merrell wish they would do anything they could to minimize the distance children spend on roads.

"One Board of Education person said that he didn't hear anything that made a difference to him that would change his mind against redistricting," Merrell said. "I cannot believe that there wasn't anything as far as increased mileage, increased fuel cost, maintenance on the school buses -- we were very disappointed that they did not take those factors into consideration. That they were doubling and tripling our distance out to these schools."


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