Growing population lends to more traffic issues

Published 10:14 am Saturday, September 17, 2022

By Jillian Haskin

Many students who live within close to PRC High School leave their homes up to twenty minutes before the first bell rings at 7:35 a.m., signaling the start of the most intense battle of the day. Grabbing a breakfast burrito, spilling coffee, or dropping off siblings are common dilemmas students normally face. What is not normal, but has become so, is the eight- to  10-minute wait we experience once we are already on Highway 11 just feet from campus at the beginning of school.

“It’s like holding your breath until you get to the door,” says Madelyn Boudreaux, a senior at PRCHS. Though she “arrives” at 7:15, her foot usually doesn’t step over the threshold until around 7:30. “Just let me in!”

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As if there aren’t enough driving problems in the area already. Sure, adding lanes on Highway 11 has helped, but the new “median” next to Sonic in Picayune doesn’t allow for easy navigation through town. The new median makes it nearly impossible to conveniently access businesses; student drivers now face added tension during what should be a simple drive to get a 50-cent corn dog. Add in ridiculous gas prices, and the experience is far from ideal.

But I digress.

There are several reasons for the current traffic problem, many of  which are beyond anyone’s control.

Officers such as Brandon Herrin and Lamar Thompson, who monitor the middle/high school traffic, can easily come to a consensus on what the traffic problem trickles down to; high population, lack of a left turning lane at the middle school, and a highway that simply isn’t wide enough to accommodate the sea of cars driven by students and parents. As if middle/high school traffic isn’t enough, at 7:00, drop-off at the elementary school starts at the same time, jumbling traffic from three schools at one time. The proximity of these times is a logistical nightmare.

The chaos of morning traffic only seeps into afternoon pick-up traffic with a more distinct coating. There is a seemingly never-ending string of buses and cars.  Starting on my next homework assignment is simply one of the tasks the traffic time gaps allow.

Navigating the student parking after dismissal is just as stressful. With a limited number of parking spots, the PRCHS parking lot isn’t exactly what most would call “spacious.” Yet not all of the traffic problems can be blamed on the size of the parking lot. Sometimes it is simply a matter of “slowness.” Whether derived from the slumbering thickness that coats a county like ours, freezing it in a slow trance of charming, southern molasses or just the blunt fact that many people probably need to retake their driver’s test, saying that the traffic here is slow is an understatement.

Expecting to get through PRCHS traffic quickly is the equivalent of waiting for snow in September in south Mississippi. And the forecast high next week is 96 degrees.