Laguna Beach Unified School district officials have decided to move ahead with determining which entryway they would like to see built at El Morro Elementary School — once the adjacent Crystal Cove State Park project is under construction again.
A district committee has narrowed down its preference for a reconfigured entry at the school, which shares an entry road with Crystal Cove State Park.
The park has been in the throes of constructing a new campground and RV park facility, but the park project was abruptly halted in midstream Jan. 21 by the state due to issues regarding bond funding for the project in the wake of the state budget crisis.
The El Morro Elementary/State Park Committee — composed of school and park officials, and parents — has been hammering out a plan to improve traffic circulation at the elementary campus for several months.
Schools Supt. Robert Fraisse was stunned to learn the park project was on hold indefinitely.
“It’s news to us,” Fraisse responded when informed of the halt by state park District Supt. Ken Kramer.
“We should stay on our mission, because funding could be back in a week, a month or five years,” Fraisse said. “We have invested significant time, and we should take a deep breath and move forward.”
The committee took a vote Jan. 23 on three possible entry configurations, and agreed with traffic consultant Joe Foust that a proposal that separates bus and vehicle traffic and allows students to be picked up and dropped off by parents at the school’s circle is the best of three options.
That plan also funnels outgoing school traffic to the shared road and provides separate intersections for buses and vehicles.
Foust described that option, listed as option No. 1, as having the best effect on circulation.
“It reduces the duration of congestion and has an advantage over the other two options by increasing the capacity of the outbound roadway,” Foust said.
The other two options are variations on the theme of separating school buses from private vehicles, but Foust said they provide somewhat less benefit to the overall traffic flow at the school.
Parents at the school have taken extraordinary measures to handle the traffic crunch during peak times of school drop-off and pick-up, employing a phalanx of “Strike Team Dads” as volunteers to direct traffic.
The district is planning to hold a public study session on the El Morro issue in February, and a final plan will be presented in the spring.