Drop off at Greenwich High School on the first day of school, which started at 8:30am for the first time, resulted a snarl of traffic. With about 2,700 students arriving in a brief window of time, whether traffic was any worse than last year was uncertain.
Sean Turpin of Greenwich’s Dept of Public Works, who was operating the traffic signal at the intersection of Hillside and East Putnam Ave, said the crunch had been the worst between 8:10 and 8:20am.
Reached by email, GHS headmaster said, “The first days of school always present special challenges, this year included. We will get the buses arrivals figured out so that students get to school on time. Seniors are not allowed to park until Tuesday, Sept 5. Over all, it was a good start to school.”
“Today went pretty well,” said Lieutenant Slusarz of Greenwich Police Department who was stationed on Hillside Rd in front of the high school. “From 7:50 to 8:35 it was gridlock.”
‘Today is just the first day and we expect people to adjust to the new schedule,” he continued, adding that the police had put the word out via a press release earlier this week asking families to anticipate the school start time change and budget extra time.
Slusarz said he and other officers had had conversations with parents attempting to drop their children off on the north side of Hillside Rd and have them dart across traffic. “It’s extremely hazardous,” he said. “We stopped them and told them not to do it, and to put the students back in the cars.”
Anecdotally, Lt Slusarz said he’d heard from parents that it had taken 20 minutes to get from exit 4 on I95 to Putnam Ave, and another 15 minutes to turn onto Hillside Rd into GHS.
The driver of bus 8, which arrived last, pulling into the loop outside GHS at 8:35am, said she’d also been a few minutes late on her earlier run, which is for Hamilton Avenue School. Bus 8 runs picks up GHS students in the area of Chickahominy, dipping down to Shore Rd and Steamboat Rd before heading up Milbank Ave to GHS.
This year, with the MISA project finished, parents were instructed to drop off students behind the building. That hadn’t been possible during construction because buses used the area behind school.
Slusarz said Greenwich Police will return on Friday and for several days after Labor Day to enforce traffic safety. “GCDS and Greenwich Catholic School don’t start until post-Labor Day and that will add to the traffic,” he said.
Slusarz said every school in town has its own circumstances with drop off and pick up, and that there would be a de-brief between Greenwich Police, the district’s bus company, STA, and the district’s transportation manager.
As for the change in start time, several students said they enjoyed sleeping a bit later and arriving at 8:30 am but did not look forward to losing an hour after school.
Bryce Licht, a senior, sporting a cowboy hat said he was looking forward to school. “I’m from Texas,” he said by way of explanation for the hat. As for the change in start time, he said he didn’t like the idea of dismissal an hour later, and would be catching up on school shopping after school in the afternoon.
A trio of girls said their after school plans were also impacted. One girl said she is expected to pick up her sister after school at New Lebanon, where the dismissal time is unchanged. “She’ll have to wait for me at Byram Shubert library,” she said.