Car-line chaos bogs down Lake Mary Elementary School drop-off

School officials say comes with beginning of new school year

LAKE MARY, Fla. – As a News 6 crew was on their way to an assignment Wednesday afternoon, they got caught up in a car-line mess outside of Lake Mary Elementary School, a mess that poured onto Lake Mary Boulevard again on Thursday.

Video showing cars blocking and some even parking in the bike lane as they waited for the school bell to ring.

Parents, like Lake Mary Elementary school mom Frances Mclay, are complaining, saying it's been that way since the first day of school.

"Traffic is awful, I'm not going to lie," Mclay said. "You hear a lot of horn honking and people are driving around you and there is nothing you can do because you are waiting to pull into the school."

Frances said she understands some of the chaos is because school just started back up but she also believes the school preventing parents from dropping off kids at the back gate this year for security reasons also contributes to the backup.

"They closed the back gate this year so a lot of families that went to the back gate, which is a lot of children, a lot of them are using the car line," she added.

News 6 reached out to the Seminole County Schools and a spokesperson said the principal hasn't received any complaints and doesn't believe the back gate being closed this year has anything to do with it.

"Car lines at pickup and drop-off are typically always heavier at the beginning of the school year, especially at the elementary level, as parents like to get their kids acclimated to school. After the first few weeks, that usually thins out and more of those kids ride their respective buses and/or walk and ride their bikes to school with their friends," SCPS spokesperson Michael Lawrence said in an email.

School officials said they work with local law enforcement to tackle traffic troubles like this one. 

News 6's Traffic Safety Expert Trooper Steve Montiero was concerned with what he saw at Lake Mary Elementary.

"Looking at your video, there are clear violations," Montiero said. "They are not stopped, they are parked, and for a driver to stop and park there, it's kind of creating a dangerous situation."

It's something Montiero responded to at Lake Nona High School last year, as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper. He said after school officials sat down with law enforcement it wasn't hard to come up with a solution. 

"The school is the one causing the backup onto the campus. Is it a malicious thing? No. It's an operational issue and one that can be easily fixed," Montiero said. 

The solution he says is to get more cars onto campus and off the roads. Seminole County School officials say that's something they are already doing, putting cones out to have a snake-like car line having parents swerve in to get more cars on the road. 

"There's a variety of factors that go into car lines," Lawrence said. "In Lake Mary Elementary's instance, part of it is the SunRail arms on Lake Mary Blvd, contributing to traffic back-ups, some is parents coming early prior to dismissal and you may also have parents that prefer to pick-up and drop-off as opposed to have their students use the Bus and/or walk or ride their bikes to school."

News 6 also contacted Lake Mary Police and after seeing our video an officer did go to the school to see what the issue was, however Lake Mary Police referred us back to Seminole County Public Schools for an official statement.

"They will continue to closely monitor the situation with their law enforcement partners as the school year continues and will adjust accordingly if necessary," Lawrence added. 

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