There are serious traffic and safety issues around Snoqualmie Ridge’s only elementary school. Cascade View has two designated student drop-off areas. One is behind the school off Douglas Ave. The other uses Snoqualmie Community Park parking lot off Ridge St. This drop-off spot was added through an agreement between the school district and the City of Snoqualmie, as it is not on school property. The future of this drop-off location is in question. The parking lot is intended for park and future community center patrons. The district asked and was granted use of the city parking lot on a temporary basis. The city continues to try to accommodate CVES, but as its community center becomes a reality, a long-term drop-off traffic solution becomes more pressing.
Both drop-off areas experienced increased congestion this year. That extra congestion is now backing up traffic on two of Snoqualmie Ridge’s main thoroughfares – and causing traffic headaches. Last year’s elementary school boundary change decreased enrollment at Cascade View – but only by roughly 50 students. The decreased enrollment did not result in less parking lot congestion.
With Snoqualmie YMCA/Community Center construction beginning this June adjacent to CVES, school district and city officials are exploring new ways to ease congestion. So what’s the answer? To date it is increased police presence around Cascade View. Snoqualmie Police now monitor parking lots and drop-off areas to promote safety. If parents attempt to drop students in a non-designated area, police politely remind them where the correct drop-off spots are. More police presence has also resulted in increased traffic warnings – and sometimes tickets – for school zone infractions.
Another answer might be the school district reinstating a bus route. The CVES attendance area of Cascade Ave/Fairway Lane was removed from boundary change Option C last year. The area remained at CVES instead of being bused to Snoqulamie Elementary. In the process, the area lost its school bus service – even with part of the attendance area being over a mile from school. Currently, only one school bus route serves Cascade View and its 700 students. So although there are slightly fewer students at CVES this year, there are actually more students driven to school. New driving students put extra pressure on the notoriously busy Community Park/Ridge St drop-off location.
Another creative solution to increase safety and ease congestion could be promoting the idea of “walking school buses.” There is a local group called CoolMom (www.coolmom.org) that promotes the walking school bus program as a way to get kids to school without the car. It involves mothers walking large groups of children to school – encouraging a healthy lifestyle and a healthier environment. CoolMom is a nonprofit organization based in Seattle that “unites moms and families to take action on Climate Change through education, lifestyle change and advocacy.” They realize it is difficult to change our car lifestyles, especially during inclement weather, but they continue trying.
Whether the solution is changing our car lifestyles, walking school buses or reinstating school bus service, something needs to change in and around Cascade View – especially with a major construction project beginning next door in a few short months. The ultimate goal is student safety.