New car loop should alleviate traffic problems at Williams Elementary



Published:

Ernest Arico

In an effort to eliminate “extreme” traffic congestion in front of Ralph M. Williams Jr. Elementary School in Rockledge, a new car loop is being built next to the school.

Officials said the loop will be finished before school opens in August.

What is so unique about the project? 

Susan Hann, the assistant superintendent of facilities services for Brevard Public Schools, said the project is a 50/50 partnership with Brevard County. The total estimated cost is $180,340. Workers from the county’s Department of Roads and Bridges are performing the work. The new loop is adjacent to Clubhouse Park.

Hann said the project adds about 1,000 feet of dual lane stacking distance, which will accommodate about 65 vehicles. In addition, the project creates 55 grass parking spaces.

“It’s the first project of this size that both municipalities worked together,” said Brevard County School Board Member Matt Susin, whose 4th district encompasses Rockledge to U.S. 192 in West Melbourne. “Everybody is kind of strapped for money these days. So, this was a great way to overcome a major hurdle and alleviate a serious road problem.”

Williams principal Wesley Herold said it’s been a persistent problem at the school for the past six years.

“This is a neighborhood school,” Herold said. “Most of our 600 kids are bikers, walkers or are driven to school. There is only one way in and out.”

Herold said the school received many complaints that people couldn’t get to their homes or go to work because they were stuck in traffic. He said the worst time is in the afternoon between 2:30 and 3 p.m.

“Traffic would be backed up in both directions for 20 or more minutes,” he added. “Another concern was that emergency vehicles couldn’t get through and some people would drive their cars up on the sidewalk, endangering people that were walking.”

Although most businesses, schools and other organizations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Hann said the project is on schedule to be finished before the new school year starts in mid-August.

“Construction has been continuing because it’s outdoors and workers are maintaining social distancing,” she said.

School officials also praised the efforts of Brevard County Commissioner Kurt Smith of District 4.

“He was instrumental in making the project a reality,” Hann said.

Williams, named in memory of a minority leader for education in the local community, opened its campus in one of the Space Coast’s most rapidly growing residential development areas in August 1999.

The school accommodates a diverse student population from the Viera East, Rockledge and Cocoa communities.