CRESTVIEW — With more than 100 parents who opt to drive their children instead of letting them ride the school bus, Antioch Elementary School's morning traffic can cause parents to wait up to a half-hour in line before returning to Antioch Road.
CRESTVIEW — Antioch Elementary School's morning traffic can cause parents to wait a half-hour in line before returning to Antioch Road.
That's too long for parents like Amanda Gourm, who says she has other things to do.
"For some people, who have other children in day care or other schools, this is a big problem ... It causes (them) to be late to school or miss daycare," she said in an email.
Last year, Crestview Police Department officers aided traffic control at the Garrett Pit-Antioch Road intersection, but budget cuts eliminated that service.
Cuts also claimed the police department's crossing guard positions, leaving uniformed officers in their place.
"There are always officers sitting there to make sure no one speeds, but they have not once bothered to step out of their cars to direct traffic," Gourm said.
Officer Wanda Hulion, who handles pedestrian safety at the busy Antioch and Garrett Pit intersection, said traffic control is not part of the assignment.
"There's a lot of misunderstanding about what we do," Hulion said. "When we're in the school zone, it is to take care of the pedestrians. Our focus is making sure children get across that road safely."
130 cars means congestion
Hulion and Antioch Principal Wanda Avery said the congestion comes from nearly 130 parents who drive their children to school in lieu of having them ride school buses.
"We explain to parents, 'Your child has the ability to ride the bus; please let them do so,'" Avery said. "We do encourage them to let their children ride the bus."
Forty-five students who attend Antioch on admission waivers from other school zones are among the students who lack school bus service access and ride with their parents, Avery said.
The reasons parents decline letting children ride the school buses are diverse, though a major reason is "nervousness of having a young child ride the bus," Avery said.
And directing traffic near the school presents concerns beyond Antioch parents' time in the line.
Because the P.J. Adams Parkway-Antioch Road corridor serves many motorists, stopping traffic at the intersection resulted in numerous complaints last year, police officers said.
"It's kind of a no-win situation because of how heavily P.J. is traveled," Officer Sam Kimmons said.
"If we stop traffic to let people out of Garrett Pit (Road), all the people on Antioch would complain," Hulion said. "If we stopped people on Garrett Pit, all the (motorists in) traffic from the school would complain."
Back-ups are inevitable on winding Whitehurst Lane, which runs to the school from Garrett Pit, Hulion said.
"You can't have that many car riders and not have traffic problems," she said. "If they want to be car riders, they're just going to have to understand there's going to be lots of traffic, and plan for it.
"We make sure pedestrians are safe. That's what we're doing there," she said. "Traffic just has to work itself out."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.