We have discussed many aspects of site selection for school campuses, this is the final installment.
A major consideration in selecting the proper site for your school campus is the surrounding roads and highways. How will your students and staff get to the campus? In too many instances I have seen schools built with only one street access. I realize that this may be the only land available and the only road with access to your site, but you must consider the implications that this will have to your campus. The safety and security of students and parents as they enter and exit the campus is of the utmost importance.
If the access is to a state highway, the State Highway Dept will have jurisdiction about where and how many access points you will be allowed to the road. If you believe that because of traffic safety reasons there should be a stop light at the entrance/exits to the campus, typically the Highway Dept will require a traffic study to be done, (at your cost) to prove that the light is necessary. In Texas, the cost of the traffic light is the responsibility of the school. This may not be the case in other states. Negotiations and planning with the Highway Dept is not a fast process. Plan enough time ahead so that this phase of the project does not delay the design and construction of your school.
We always recommend having at least two access points to your site as a minimum. This will assist in spreading out the traffic load and being able to separate the bus traffic from the parents. Multiple pick up and drop off points and having the bus traffic separated are key elements in having a safe site. Plan the drop offs to be long enough that cars are not standing on the street right of way.
The trend in the last 10 to 15 years has been that small neighborhood schools are being consolidated into larger campuses. Students no longer walk to school, even if they are only a few blocks away. Parents are driving their students to school or they are riding the bus. Not many students walk or ride bikes as in my day. I say all that to help us all realize that you must plan for more vehicles coming to your school campus and plan a safe and effective way to get the students in your school.
Michael D. King AIA