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Leave early, take side roads, be patient
Residents warned of back-to-school traffic tie-ups
WEB south entrance jd
Students and parents entering South Forsyth High School from Peachtree Parkway will find the front entrance, which was closed for much of the summer, open. - photo by Jim Dean
When school starts at 7:40 a.m. Monday, traffic in southern Forsyth County could be tight.

Besides teen drivers, parents dropping off students and 241 busses that will circulate the county, a road-widening project on Peachtree Parkway could tie up traffic and turning lanes.

Bruce Wagar, director of school safety and discipline, said Peachtree Parkway, or Hwy. 141, a major artery in South Forsyth, will be “extremely congested.”

“Last year we had about an eight-car turn lane going into the school ... that lane no longer exists,” he said, adding that anytime someone tries to turn left off Hwy. 141 into the school will hold up traffic.

Peachtree Parkway is the major access road to Shiloh Point Elementary, Piney Grove Middle, Forsyth Christian Academy, Lanier Technical College, Big Creek Elementary and Pinecrest Academy.

In addition, The Avenue Forsyth retail complex recently opened just across the street from South Forsyth High.
Highway 141 is being expanded to a four-lane road from McGinnis Ferry Road to Hwy. 9, a project the Georgia Department of Transportation expects will last until early 2010.

Wagar added that it may take some time for motorists headed to South Forsyth High to adjust to the new entrance off Peachtree Parkway. The old entrance no longer exists.

In most areas of Forsyth, Wagar and Garry Puetz, director of transportation, agree that traffic could flow better within the first week of school, once everyone is acclimated.

Peachtree Parkway, however, could be the exception.

“Even after (the first week of school), I don’t see it getting better,” Wagar said.

Sharon Abney, who lives near Post Road, is no rookie to the back-to-school shuffle.

“Oh my gosh, (Peachtree Parkway) is a major, major stopping parking lot. For South Forsyth High School  ...  it could take forever,” she said.

Abney travels from her home to Alpharetta to drop off her daughter, Tatum, at preschool and to West Forsyth High, where she is the school nurse.

In the summer, her commute to Alpharetta takes about 15 minutes, but the time doubles when school starts.

Leaving an extra half hour early, Abney suggests, is the best thing a driver can do the first week back. Also, avoid major roads.

“Take any back road possible to get there,” she said. “I would Mapquest it and test out different kinds of ways to get there.”

Like Abney, Puetz suggested leaving extra time for commutes because the bus drivers have about 19,000 children to deliver either to or from school.

Aside from South Forsyth, Puetz said Hwy. 20 towards the Riverwatch Middle School area will be congested.
“It’s normally bad,” he said. “It just gets worse when school’s in session.”

Puetz added that Post and Bethelview roads, and Matt Highway, will likely be crowded as well.

“My suggestion is, and I know that this is a slight inconvenience, is avoid roads near school campuses if you can,” he said.