New traffic flow may reduce impact on MHS neighbors

Ask any parent whose ever dropped off, or picked up, their student at McNary High School at the beginning and end of the day and they will likely tell you that it’s a dreaded experience.

Depending on the day, it can take up to 20 minutes to enter campus, drop off a student and then get back out of the parking lot to move on with the rest of the day. The situation, at various times, has led families to seek creative alternatives for getting kids to school, usually by making use of pedestrian gates leading to McNary. The situation is sometimes a scourge to residents who live in the adjoining neighborhoods, and one most recently felt by the residents of Newberg Drive on the west side of campus.

Residents have voiced their concerns and frustrations to the school, the school district and the Keizer City Council over the past five years. Relief may be in sight, but it could well get worse before it gets better.

The planned expansion of McNary High School includes a near-complete redesign of the school’s parking lot and traffic flow patterns.

“There will be more parking, but the flow will be so much better,” said Erik Jespersen, McNary principal. “Traffic engineers have helped us think through that flow and now there will be two main spots to drop off kids.”

Buses will all enter through the north side of campus on Lockhaven Drive North, peel off from car traffic to travel around the back of the building to drop off at a new entrance that will open in the fall of 2021 and then exit through the south side of the campus onto Chemawa Road North.

“It will speed up everything. It’s not always just the amount of cars, it’s the stop, start, stop, start,” Jespersen said.

Vehicles entering from the north and south sides of the campus will have dedicated routes to follow into and out of the parking lot to minimize the merging that chokes the current patterns over and over again at different points.

Special education buses will enter from the east end of the campus through a new driveway leading past St. Edward Catholic Church and The Arbor at Avamere Court.

All the transformation will likely mean some headaches in the interim because on-campus parking will be drastically reduced during the 14-month construction project, but the district is looking for opportunities to partner with other spaces in the area.

“We’re working through a lot of it right now. We might look for community partners to assist with parking and find some viable solutions,” said Karma Krause, the district’s bond information officer.