Back-to-School Bottleneck: The traffic nightmare at Bay Area high schools

Public and private buses could ease the gridlock
Posted at 8:17 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 20:17:10-04

A new school year, but the same old problem. 

"Oh my goodness!," says frustrated driver Orlando Rivera as he waits in traffic trying to get into George Steinbrenner High School in Lutz. 

The school on Lutz Lake Fern is one of the Bay Area's most congested in the mornings. 

Parent Tracy Willsie said traffic is terrible in the area. Three schools are clustered on the same side of the road: Steinbrenner High, Martinez Middle, and Mckitrick Elementary. Even more, there's just one way in and one way out. 

"We knew this was going to look just like this this morning," says parent Carey Laird.

She parks and walks her 4th and 7th graders everyday.

"For us it's a way of life.. just get used to it," she says.

But Willsie says the road simply can't handle the volume all at once. It's too much, too fast.

"People turning right can't go yet because people are walking across that cross walk," she says.

Minutes before the first bell rang, traffic on this first day was still backed up for a mile to get into the school. Action Air One captured similar morning jams at Chamberlin High School in Tampa and at Strawberry Crest in Dover.

Hillsborough County school board member Cindy Stuart says the most practical solution is for more students to take the bus.

"Bringing a bus with 60 kids versus 60 cars will reduce the traffic in and around schools," said Stuart.

Or, it may be time to hop on the Hart line.

"There is no reason why a middle or high school student couldn't ride a Hart bus back and forth," she said. "It happens in major cities, and I think we are getting to that place in Hillsborough County."

County leaders hear the frustration, but you'll need your patience no matter how it works out.