New Falcon Circle to help alleviate traffic congestion near schools, officials say

Workers install fencing and other improvements on Falcon Circle, Cedar City, Utah, June 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — A newly built road at 2200 North is expected to ease some of the traffic congestion that has plagued Canyon View High School for years.

The new street, officially named Falcon Circle, is a cul-de-sac that extends west of Main Street. It includes a short private drive that connects the west end of the circle with the parking lot at the northern section of the CVHS property, near the baseball field.

Pastor Pete Akins talks about Falcon Circle, a new road north of Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Hunter Shaheen, the energy and construction supervisor for Iron County School District, called the project a “win-win” for all parties involved.

With Canyon View High School and Canyon View Middle School being located across the street from each other, 1925 North Street is often clogged with vehicles on school days, especially right before and after school. The two schools, with a combined enrollment of around 2,000 students, share similar schedules and limited points of access.

“We’re hoping if we can take even half of those cars and move them from the front of the high school to the back of the high school, it should alleviate and keep things a little more free-moving in the drop-off areas for both schools,” Shaheen told Cedar City News.

Fire hydrant, street sign, and curb and gutter improvements at the intersection of the newly built Falcon Circle and Falcon Drive streets, Cedar City, Utah, June 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Pastor Pete Akins of the True Life Center / Cedar City Foursquare Fellowship, said he knows firsthand how challenging it can be to drop students off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. One of Akins’ children just graduated from CVHS, another will be a junior there this coming school year and two others will be attending the middle school this fall. Akins also has worked as a bus driver for the school district.

Concerned with the traffic congestion problems in the area, Akins said he approached property owner and developer Judd Abrams more than two years ago about getting a street built that would not only provide secondary access to the high school but to the church as well. The developer would then be able to subdivide commercial lots to the north. The project required the approval of Cedar City engineers and city officials, in addition to the state Department of Transportation.

Earlier this spring, bulldozer crews graded the road. Then, in early June, Falcon Circle was paved with asphalt. Signs, sidewalks and gutters have since been added and further improvements are under way. A short spur, named Falcon Drive, branches off to the north. It is currently a dead end but is anticipated to provide access to future commercial establishments.

“For our traffic flow, having another access is a benefit to us,” Akins said, adding that the True Life Center, which includes the 21 eleven coffee shop, will more than double its available parking spaces, in addition to having room for possible future growth and expansion.

Shaheen said the school district contributed $120,000 toward the cost of the project and will be responsible for maintaining the private drive that connects the cul-de-sac with the CVHS parking lot.

Access point where private drive connects Falcon Circle to Canyon View High School’s north parking lot, Cedar City, Utah, June 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

He praised the “concerted effort” made by the various entities and stakeholders involved.

“For the last couple of years we’ve really discussed it with the city, with parent groups, with engineers. We’ve tried to tackle it knowing that that it’s probably one of our most congested areas in all of town when school’s starting and letting out at the end of each day.

“There were quite a few people that were involved in trying to make it happen and help it take shape to where it can hopefully benefit everybody.”

Ultimately, the decision boiled down to student safety, Shaheen said, adding that traffic accidents pose a statistically greater risk to students than school shootings.

“We had some professionals give us the information that the number one leading cause of death on campus is right there in the parking lot.

“We fully understand that, with where those egress points and ingress points for both schools are adjacent from each other, it’s not necessarily the safest environment. And so, we’re trying to look at what we can do to alleviate the congestion and make that traffic a little more free-flowing and visible to everybody, and hopefully put some order in the chaos that sometimes ensues out in a high school parking lot.”

“Bringing some of that (traffic) to the back and spreading that out, I think alleviates it and makes it a little safer for everybody. I really feel like it was a win-win for everybody that was involved.”

Once school starts again in August, drivers will be able to use the Falcon Circle access to enter the CVHS property from the north, where students may either walk onto school grounds after being dropped off in the circle itself or drive their cars from the circle and into the school’s north parking lot.

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