Parents: Long drop-off lines at Buda school lead to aggressive driving

Traffic on FM 1626 near Elm Grove Elementary. (KXAN photo)
Traffic on FM 1626 near Elm Grove Elementary. (KXAN photo)

BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – Parents say long lines to drop off their children at school is leading to aggressive and dangerous driving.

Elm Grove Elementary in Buda sits right in the middle of three growing subdivisions on Farm to Market 1626. With more people moving to the area and now construction, parents fear it could get worse.

“It can back up over a mile, a mile and a half pretty easily,” said Hays County Commissioner Mark Jones. “Even before construction it was a huge problem.”

The morning commute to the school has become so bad, Commissioner Mark Jones volunteers his own time to help direct traffic.

“Elm Grove has nearly 800 kids in school and only 30 of them will ride the bus or are bus eligible so we have 700 kids being dropped off here every morning plus the rush hour traffic,” said Jones.

According to Hays CISD, Elm Grove has a primary building capacity of 790 students, but has a current enrollment of 896 students.

“Ordinarily, to alleviate campuses that are over capacity, the district explores redrawing attendance boundary zones,” reads an Hays Consolidated Independent School District statement sent to KXAN. “In the case of Elm Grove, the attendance zone is so geographically small that everyone who goes to the school effectively lives ‘next door’ to the campus, making it hard to reduce the size of the zone any further.”

As cars slowly make their way to the school, Commissioner Jones says he sees drivers become impatient and misuse the turning lane on more than one occasion.

“We have a lot of people using it as a second lane and they will go several hundred yards driving in that lane at 50 or 60 miles per hour,” said Jones.

That’s all within a school zone which is why so many parents are concerned. Jones says Buda PD and Hays County sheriff’s deputies patrol the area regularly, but they can’t catch everything. Parents are asking drivers to slow down.

“You just have to be patient and know that in this area with all this growth and we have all these kids, so it’s just going to happen,” said Elm Grove parent Amanda Gregory.

For those living in the area, there is hope. A $47 million construction project on FM 1626 will eventually widen the lanes, turning the three lane road into a five lane road. Officials expect construction to be finished by next year.

“It’s tough right now, but it has to be this way to make it better which is what we need,” said Gregory.

Along with the school being over capacity, HCISD says there are a few other factors contributing to the problem. It says that more students are getting rides to school in the cold weather when they normally walk or bike.

HCISD is asking parents to carpool if pool if possible to help with traffic congestion.

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