Sandburg High School: less accesible than Machu Picchu
December 23, 2015
The LaGrange Road Widening project has caused an influx of problems for Sandburg students and staff since the beginning of the school year. Tardies and, more seriously, accidents have increased simultaneously with the intensity of construction in the road area between 131st and 135th street, directly in front of Sandburg’s East side, and its surroundings.
The project began in May 2013, after the Village of Orland Park, Tinley Park, Orland Hills and Palos Park assessed a need for additional lanes and roadway enhancements.
According to the Village of Orland Park website, “currently, LaGrange Road carries 40,000 vehicles per day and is projected to carry upwards to 65,000 vehicles per day in the year 2040.”
The changes that are being made to the road are occurring in order to prevent future problems and maintain efficient traffic flow, but it is extremely difficult for Sandburg students and faculty who travel on La Grange every single day to foresee this endpoint.
Especially for Sandburg seniors, who were just granted the token privilege to drive to school and park in the adjacent church lot or the west Sandburg lot, the expected end of LaGrange road construction, stated in the public construction plans vaguely as “Spring 2016”, cannot approach fast enough. Tanner Vanderkrabben, a senior who parks at the church to the south side of the school, expressed his frustrations with the construction.
“It is a relatively minor inconvenience, but it’s also something that students and teachers have to consistently deal with everyday,” stated Tanner Vanderkrabben, “especially because students who park at the church can no longer turn left to turn into the lot when heading northbound on LaGrange. Again, it’s a minor problem, but it causes a significant increase in travel time to get into school.”
The students mentioned who do travel northbound on LaGrange are forced to largely re-route their entire commute or find another way to get to the opposite-heading way of traffic. Some other tactics include turning around in one of the restaurants’ or stores’ parking lots across the street, a ticketable offence, or making legal Uturns, which only fuel the traffic problem.
“The U-turns are necessary, I get it, but they really congest the intersections,” says Tanner Vanderkrabben, “especially when you have so many people ignoring yellow lights and getting stuck literally in the middle of the intersections of 131st and LaGrange and 135th and LaGrange. They are a chaotic mess in the mornings before school.”
This congestion causes even more problems for students trying to get to school. Attendance Secretary Patty Barkauskas has witnessed the effect of the construction from an attendance standpoint.
“We do get a lot more tardies because of the construction, about fifteen-to-twenty per day now,” Mrs. Barkauskas stated, “and there’s not a lot we can do about it. I do feel bad sometimes, but we don’t make the rules.”
Barkauskas did confirm that there was a day that attendance sent out an email to teachers to instruct them to exempt all tardies due to outstanding and overwhelming traffic.
Even so, this notice was a one time occurrence. “We haven’t had any bad days like that recently, not since the beginning of the year, probably because people adjusted to getting up and leaving for school earlier.”