Indeed. The Administration, Security, and Facilities work closely together to monitor, evaluate and address traffic flow and parking issues on a constant basis. Any changes or modifications are thoroughly planned in advance and available options are discussed. If you look at the flow of traffic at the moment, what has taken place this past school year and what we are doing now, you will notice that we have implemented a number of drastic changes to deal with the growing traffic and to ensure that everyone on campus whether it’s a young child, a student, a visitor or a parent is safe. A number of the changes that we have made keep the traffic free and flowing throughout campus while addressing some safety concerns.
Bullis is a community-oriented school with many activities throughout the day and night. What works today may not work tomorrow. That is why we constantly have to evaluate traffic and make adjustments as needed.
So what are some of the things that you have implemented or will still implement to ensure that traffic will flow safely?
We have implemented a number of changes in the last few months that address campus-wide traffic flow. First, we altered the carpool afternoon pick-up lines of the Lower, Middle and Upper School to ease the passing of cars through campus and to break some of the “bottleneck” situations primarily at the named facilities. The Administration moved the dismissal time of the Lower School day to 3:10 pm from 3:30 pm. This allows for a much safer and coordinated delivery of Lower School students and enables parents to get their children off campus more efficiently. Secondly, we split the Middle School car pool line into two areas. One is located in front of Blair and the other in front of South Hall by the playground. These measures help prevent the bottlenecking of traffic at the entrance of Bullis and roadways around campus. I have only heard positive feedback from the parents, but like everything else, we are going to have our challenges during peak times, especially when special or athletic events are taking place. As far as the Upper School is concerned, we implemented new procedures that direct Upper School students to leave campus after the school through the Falls Road Stadium gate as opposed to using the Democracy gate exit. A Montgomery County Police officer is at the Falls Road Stadium gate daily to assist students leaving campus. We implemented the measure of placing a police officer at this location because we wanted to allow free flowing traffic out of the Falls Road Stadium gate exit in a safe and efficient manner. An additional measure we implemented is restricting traffic flow and parking at the Stadium each afternoon for fall and spring sports. Although not very popular, this measure was done purely for safety reasons.
How did you happen to get in touch with the Montegomery County Police Department? Why are they so important to Bullis?
For years now Bullis has hired off duty Montgomery County Police Officers to direct traffic at the Democracy Road gate. They have now become a fixture with the Bullis community and are out there everyday before and after school. Seeing the increase in traffic on the roadways surrounding Bullis and hearing feedback, we felt it was in our best interest to expand our relationship with the police department and the officers at the gates during peak traffic times. This allows us to address some of the difficulties that parents and students have in leaving campus onto the busy roadways before and after school. Bullis has also recently increased the number of officers that work on a set schedule so we are confident that the officers, who are also part-time Bullis employees, will be out there on a regular basis. Having them out their benefits us since it is a visual deterrent for people that may potentially cause problems around campus.
When the Bullis School moved its location to the current buildings in 1961, cars were a rare sight around campus; now they are common among students. As a result of the 60’s blueprint of roads and buildings, driving around the campus has become difficult. What action has to be taken to improve the situation?
With the master plan that involves an increase in the number of students and buildings, we are going to have to address different issues including that of traffic flow. It is my understanding that the master plan involves altering the main entrance and placing a security structure there for safety and security. It is also my understanding that there will be changes made to the roadway in the area of the stadium gate. Anytime you are expanding a school, and developing it into a college-like campus, you are going to have to address parking and traffic flow. At the same time though, we cannot turn a blind eye towards security. That is why, even with a growing campus, we will continue to close gates after certain hours to limit and control vehicles that come onto campus.
Parking is another major issue on campus. The moans and groans from Juniors struggling up the hill from their parking lot can be heard as loudly as those from Seniors annoyed at trying to find a spot in their noticeably overcrowded lot. How long will this remain a problem? Would a dual grade parking lot solve the issue?
One of our priorities is to listen to the concerns on campus, but I think that we also have to be realistic and take advantage of available spaces on campus before we add additional parking lots. There are plenty of overflow parking spaces towards the Athletic Center and the walk really is not that far. I don’t believe that it is unreasonable for anyone, including employees and students, to park and walk from that area. I also believe that complaining can be traced back to the weather situation rather than the distance. Let’s face it; we’ve had a tough winter. The campus is very open and green and is enjoyable to walk through, especially on a nice day. We just have to make sure that there are plenty of safe walking areas from the parking lots to the buildings.
Eventually though, there will be no way around addressing the fact that Bullis is growing and more parking spaces will be needed. I am not worried though because I know that the Administration, led by Dr. Boarman and Dr. Reidy are always a step ahead of the game when it comes to planning for the future…
Mr. Buerger, we have talked a lot about what you and the Administration are doing about the commute and parking situation around campus. Is their anything that we can do to help?
Certainly…. there a number of things students and faculty can do to help:
· For Upper School students, when you are leaving campus at dismissal, remember to exit through the Falls Road Stadium gate. Please do not use the Democracy gate, as the Lower School is dismissing at that time.
· Roadways on campus, coming from the main entrance off of Falls Road to North and South Halls, are one way (entering only) during the hours of 7:00-8:15 A.M. and 2:30-4:00 P.M.
· The Falls Road Stadium gate is always exit only (one way) and should not be used as a means of coming onto campus at any time.
· Remember the speed limit is 15 MPH around campus.
· Cell phone usage is not permitted while you are driving on campus.