Lewiston High School traffic pattern changing

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LEWISTON — Peter Amnott hopes to make going to school a little safer.

The Lewiston High School assistant principal has led a group to propose their own plan for easing traffic confusion and congestion outside the school and the beginning and end of the day.

The proposal, which includes more signs, fewer crosswalks and medians to force vehicles into defined lanes, was unanimously approved Monday by the Lewiston School Committee.

“Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the students,” Amnott said Tuesday. “It’s an ongoing process.”

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Since late last year, Amnott and several other school leaders have been examining the traffic at the school, watching the buses and students arrive and examining footage of a surveillance camera.

The images surprised even Amnott.

Cars dropping off students sometimes blocked the travel lanes in both directions, sitting four abreast as teens hopped from cars into traffic. Drivers cut off buses. People sometimes made u-turns into busy lanes.

On Jan. 4, when students returned from their holiday break, temporary wooden barriers were installed to separate drop-off lanes from the commuter traffic.

“We didn’t want to put up something permanent if it wouldn’t work,” Amnott said. They immediately asked students what they thought of the change.

“They said, ‘It has helped. It’s better than what we had before,’” Amnott said.

Better signs ought to improve the situation, too, said Jim Handy, School Committee chairman. People need to be told where they can go and at what speed.

For instance, drop-off traffic must enter from East Avenue near the tennis courts and will be banned from entering the bus lanes.

“Private vehicles are not allowed there anytime,” Handy said.

New posted speed limits will also come with enforcement by Lewiston Police, who were invited to patrol the area and cite speeders just as they would on any city street.

The full changes are expected to be completed during the summer break at a price of about $40,000, Handy said.

The school department is expected to find the money in a maintenance account.

“Even in these austere budget times, you can’t turn a blind eye to safety,” Handy said. “We’ll probably have to cut something but it will be worth it.”

dhartill@sunjournal.com

LEWISTON — The 33-year-old woman charged with driving her SUV into a Lewiston High School student in the school’s driveway has been indicted on charges of driving without a license and driving to endanger.

Police say Bilow Farah of Lewiston struck 16-year-old Kelsey Cape-Norris with her Mercedes Benz on Jan. 14. The student suffered broken bones and other injuries.

The grand jury indictment was handed up earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Cape-Norris has returned to school, said Paul Amnott, a Lewiston High school assistant principal.

“She’s doing very well,” Amnott said. “She’s back in school and doing fine.”

Lewiston School Superintendent Leon Levesque has insisted that the accident had nothing to do with the school’s traffic problems.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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