By: Chris Long
Wake Forest’s Operation Bridge Exchange on Forestville Road is in full swing, and has drastically impacted the commutes of students and buses to and from school every day. According to the Town of Wake Forest’s website, the construction will yield a three lane bridge with a 5 foot wide sidewalk on the side of the bridge facing Heritage. Underneath, will be room for an underpass, allowing pedestrians to cross under the road to access both the school and the greenway behind the school.
The bridge is scheduled to be finished and reopened on November 1st, 2015. Until then, students will have to tackle heavy traffic.
In the morning, traffic has started building up on Forestville Road, Heritage Lake Road, and Rogers Road as early as 6:35am. The traffic peaks at about the 7:00-7:10am according to Officer Pender, the Heritage resource officer, and calms down by 7:20 when the late bell rings. This has increased students commutes dramatically. Senior Lake Rouse said “This morning it took me about 25 minutes to get to school, last year I could make it to school in about 5 minutes.” He also added that he can not make it home and back during lunch, even with the added 5 minutes to A and B lunch.
Student drivers are not the only ones affected by the traffic; many bus routes have been completely re-routed around the bridge. A number of buses have since been arriving on campus very close to the sounding of the late bell, a stark contrast to bus arrival times in years past.
In the afternoon,all drivers from the student parking lot are now directed to go out through the bus lot to Forestville Road. Many students are happy with the new pattern and say that if they beat the buses out of the lot it is actually faster than in years past to drive off campus.
Not only have students and parents been impacted by the detour, a few sports teams coming to Heritage from Raleigh and points south have had a little trouble meandering around the bridge. During the football team’s scrimmage against Southern Durham in early-August the Spartans were about 30 minutes late because their driver was unable to get around the detour. To eliminate this from occurring again Coach Kennedy has informed other schools of the detour.
The Forestville Road bridge is not the only local bridge to be replaced as part of the operation. Next summer, the bridge carrying Rodgers Road over Smith Creek just to the east of Heritage Elementary and Middle Schools will be replaced. Undoubtedly, this will cause similar traffic problems for students and their parents attending those schools in addition to ours.