It is very likely, says Mary Wright, director for operations and development for Fayette County schools, that the district and the city will soon agree on a plan that will allow construction to go forward on a new high school in the Winchester Road/Hamburg area.
However, the city did the right thing by halting it until there's a plan for traffic in one of Lexington's busiest areas with 1,800 high school students plus faculty, staff and parents added to the mix.
This bump in the road should serve as a spur to formalize the relationship between the city and the public education systems within it, the public schools, the University of Kentucky and Bluegrass Community and Technical College, when they undertake major construction projects.
A schools spokesperson reacted to the city's action by pointing out that Sir Barton Way, a critical thoroughfare in the Hamburg development, "is not even on our property."
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True enough, but it will carry a significant portion of the new high school's traffic.
The city has every reason to be concerned about how traffic will flow on Sir Barton when the school opens in 2017 and for many years thereafter.
This issue was also evident in the spring when UK representatives presented the council, as a courtesy, plans for the just-completed changes in Alumni Drive. UK owns that stretch of road and can legally do whatever it wants.
It was indeed a sign of good faith to present the plans. But when council members raised questions about traffic volume and flow, the impact on Tates Creek and Nicholasville roads during rush hour and football games, much of the discussion was speculative and the council had no authority to intervene if it did uncover problems.
Without a written agreement, cooperation between city and schools is only as good as the good faith of the current personnel.
It's also important to note that traffic engineers can't, and shouldn't, just make up numbers, draw new roads on a map.
Sorting out and addressing the impact of major changes like a new high school or the Alumni project, and solving problems, takes a lot of work which, in turn, means expense. Private developers pay building permit fees to help cover the cost of a thorough review. The city has chosen not to charge the school district those fees but for a project the size of the high school it would be about $60,000.
As the city, the schools, UK and BCTCS discuss how to manage the impact of future projects, they should also consider how review costs will be shared.
In Lexington, complaining about the traffic is a favorite local pastime. Yet, the potential for serious and dangerous traffic headaches is very real with these major projects.
Anticipating issues and addressing them at the earliest stages of a project is much better and less costly than trying to mitigate them later.