Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

School district begins high school permit process

 

January 25, 2018

ALSC Architects

The layout of the proposed expansion of Cheney High School is shown above. The revamped main parking and new bus loop are in the center of the picture.

Cheney School District officials have submitted an application to the city to begin the permitting and review process for the proposed expansion and renovation of the district's high school.

Comments on the application are due by Feb 2, with a public hearing required.

The project features an additional 75,000 square feet of specific site preparation and building construction. It includes adding a 500-seat auditorium, third gymnasium and 19 new classrooms, along with other supporting spaces, to the existing 177,000 square foot facility.

Besides new spaces, an important part of the project are changes proposed to vehicular traffic in the area, which includes Betz Elementary School just to the south. Under the proposal, both schools would share one bus pickup and drop-off loop utilizing space at the high school.

The loop would be one way, with buses entering to the north next to the high school and traversing counterclockwise, exiting to the south. According to a trip generation and distribution analysis prepared for the district by Morrison Majerle, the loop would be large enough to accommodate 20 buses, three more than currently serve Betz and the high school combined in three waves over peak hours.

Also included is a 310-foot parent drop-off area proposed for North Sixth Street. The drop-off would be recessed off North Sixth, and either feature drop and passing lanes with inbound and outbound driveways, or a single pull-out lane with U-turn potentials restricted with construction of a center island.

Parking would also change, with the current south lot increasing from 206 to 246 stalls and the existing 32-stall lot along North Sixth eliminated. A new, staff-only 107-stall lot would be built south of the football field and accessed off North Eighth Street. Finally, the current staff parking lot along the high school's north side would increase to 75 stalls.

According to the Morrison Majerle report, the new staff lot's driveway off North Eighth may or may not be open for daily use, depending upon the decisions of school officials.

"If available, the driveway would minimize traffic congestion at driveways along North Sixth Street," Morrison Majerle traffic engineer Bill White wrote in the report. "If not, staff would have to travel through the student lot then access via an easement through the bus lane."

Previous schematic drawings produced for the district by ALSC Architects show a locked gate between the two parking lots.

According to the traffic study, the expansion would allow Betz to increase its student capacity from 450 to 550 students, and the high school from 1,300 to 1,600. The result is a projected gain of 650 weekday trips overall, going from a current 2,884 to 3,534.

The future capacity would generate 970 trips during the morning peak hour, which coincides with the typical work commute period, 652 trips during the afternoon peak hour that takes place prior to the normal work commute and 307 trips during the peak commute time. About 10 percent of trips would be by staff, with the rest from students.

The district is proposing other ways of reducing congestion and issues along North Sixth Street by limiting students exiting the parking lot to right turns only. The city is also looking at measures to reduce impacts of a projected increase of 200 vehicle trips per week day on North Eighth Street, such as no parking zones.

Overall, the proposed changes should "minimize existing congestion issues along North Sixth Street despite a 22 percent gain in school traffic."

"While it is true some traffic would be redirected to impact other City streets, these are noted as low-volume roadways that do not experience the congestion of N. 6th Street," White wrote. "Thus, the proposal has an overall benefit to the community versus existing conditions."

Comments or inquiries should be directed to Cheney senior planner Brett Lucas at blucas@cityofcheney.org or at 498-9240.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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