JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Drivers along San Pablo Road are seeing traffic backups now that school is back in session.
A new River City Science Academy, which is a charter school, opened across the street from Alimacani Elementary School.
News4Jax received several complaints about traffic in the area on Tuesday, which was the first day of school. Traffic was also congested as students were picked up on the second day of school.
“This is a nightmare. There should have been planning than this,” said Debra Franklin, whose grandsons attend Alimacani Elementary.
Franklin said it took her at least 30 minutes to get to the school for pickup on Wednesday afternoon.
“I ended up parking at the church and walking up because I was never going to make it in time to get there,” Franklin said.
Heather Waters, a parent of an Alimacani Elementary student, said drop-off was difficult, as well.
“This isn’t going to change. This is going to be like this for the whole school year, you can quote me on that,” Waters said. “A very big mess.”
She said she was in traffic for 20 minutes on Wednesday morning.
“What baffles me is there is not a person out here directing that traffic for those who don’t need to go to that school,” Waters said.
Other parents have safety concerns throughout nearby communities.
“They get cut off at this light. They go straight through these residential neighborhoods, speeding, just trying to cut through,” said parent Amber Henderson. “Be vigilant for the children, that’s all.”
San Pablo Road between Beach and Atlantic boulevards is two lanes, with turning lanes for both southbound and northbound traffic into Alimacani Elementary, not River City Science Academy.
In a statement, River City Science Academy Principal Megan Jackson wrote: “San Pablo should be widened. Thankfully, the city has plans to widen the road within the next couple years.”
Duval County School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen, who represents district two, wrote: “The issue of the road capacity is really now an issue for the city and the Department of Transportation. The district is willing to partner as appropriate, but road and traffic issues caused by charter schools are not something our local school board can address.”
According to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, reconstruction of the existing roadway from a two-lane to a three-lane road will begin later this fall with an 18- to 20-month construction timeline.
“They need to plan for better than this and get over here and do something about it,” Franklin said.
The city told News4Jax that it is aware of the congestion and will monitor the situation in the coming days. The office of Jacksonville City Councilman Aaron Bowman, who represents the area where the schools are located, said it has received complaints and will meet to discuss plans to address the congestion.
While school start times are staggered, dismissal times are only about 15 minutes apart.