‘It’s not going to be fixed overnight,’ chief says of traffic ‘stacking’ at Porter Road schools

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Vehicles wait along Porter Road in May to enter the Saddleback Elementary School driveway. Some residents say the road is dangerous. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]

Maricopa police Chief James Hughes broached the topic of traffic around Porter Road-area schools during a recent report to City Council.

He said he expects new traffic plans developed by the schools before classes restarted last week will improve the situation.

He said the issue is parents “stacking” on the city streets during morning drop-off and afternoon pickup of their children.

“We cannot block the roads,” he said. “That is against ARS (Arizona Revised Statutes) and the city code. The schools have really stepped up, they have revised their (traffic flow) plans. Basically, we’ve been working on it all summer, so we think we’ll see appreciable results.

“It’s not going to be perfect; it’s not going to be fixed overnight, but once again, we are moving forward in dealing with some of the parking issues that we have at pickup and drop off.”

Hughes said he understands that parents’ primary objective is to pick up or drop off their child safely.

But he said that if the community approaches the issue from a collective, rather than individual standpoint, it will create a better and safer situation for everyone.

The City of Maricopa has worked with public and charter schools to develop plans to alleviate traffic congestion and the blocking of roadways during the busiest times of the day.

The most prominent area of study was the one-mile stretch of Porter Road between Honeycutt and Bowlin roads, which is home to seven schools: Saddleback Elementary, A+ Charter School, Heritage Academy, Leading Edge Academy, Legacy Traditional School, Sequoia Pathway Academy and Central Arizona College. During the morning and afternoon rushes, cars back up traffic onto Porter and side streets.

In early June Rodolfo Lopez, the city’s development services director, presented to City Council the steps being taken to alleviate the traffic issues. He said city engineers and staff had been meeting with representatives of all the city’s schools since late 2021, holding four round-table meetings to help the city understand the pickup and drop-off plans for each school.

One takeaway from those meetings was that the traffic control plans originally submitted by the schools during their development process had been altered over the years, Lopez said.