OAKMAN — The Oakman Police Department is reporting a significant improvement in traffic flow around Oakman Middle and Oakman High schools.A new traffic plan that went into effect Aug. 20 creates a …
OAKMAN — The Oakman Police Department is reporting a significant improvement in traffic flow around Oakman Middle and Oakman High schools.
A new traffic plan that went into effect Aug. 20 creates a one-way traffic flow on School Street leading to Oakman Middle School from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and from 2:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. It is an effort to keep traffic from backing up on Alabama Highway 69 during start and release times at the schools, and Oakman Police Chief Ken Marbury said the plan is working.
"Generally, at 3 o'clock, we're done. No traffic on School Street, no traffic on 69, where in the past we were still out there at 3:10, 3:15, 3:20, still trying to move traffic off the highway and get them up to the school," Marbury told the Daily Mountain Eagle on Wednesday.
When the new traffic plan was implemented, parents expressed their anger on social media. Marbury said parents expressed they weren't necessarily upset School Street was turned into a one-way at specific times, but rather they were concerned about the conditions of the roads they were forced to travel during detour.
During the one-way times, drivers now must take Coal Valley Road to go back towards downtown Oakman or travel McLaughlin Mill Road to go towards Jasper.
"I sympathize with their feelings about the roads," Marbury said. "I understand, but that's something the mayor has made his mission for 2019, is trying to get those roads repaved."
Last year, Marbury talked to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) officers who expressed concern about Highway 69 being blocked by school traffic, and Marbury said two parents told him they were approached by ALEA as well for blocking Highway 69.
"I'm also in agreement with ALEA that we need to keep this highway open for safety reasons, for emergency reasons, because it's potentially dangerous for this highway to be blocked for a long period of time," Marbury said. "Highway 69 is a state highway. It goes through Oakman, but it's not our road. The state was not pleased with that road being blocked."
For the time being, Marbury said the one-way will remain in effect during the specified times of 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
A post was shared on Facebook the week on Aug. 20 to invite parents to discuss their traffic concerns or suggestions with Marbury one evening at the Oakman Community Center; however, he said only four parents and three citizens showed up. Marbury and Oakman Mayor Cory Franks have both invited anyone who would like to speak with them about the school traffic plan to call Oakman Town Hall at (205) 622-3232 to schedule a meeting.
"I tried to come up with a solution so no one would get in trouble — not us or the parents," Marbury said. "I am open for suggestions, but right now, for the safety of the children ... we had to come up with a solution."