Duluth Students Late Getting Home, Worried Parents

By KBJR News 1

September 15, 2011 Updated Sep 15, 2011 at 9:58 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Stepping off the bus late and nearly missing after school activities, parents of students at North Star Academy say enough is enough.

When students and parents moved into the new facilities at the Duluth Edison Charter school, they unpacked a new problem - traffic.

"It has been quite a wait," said parent, Suzanne Schuller.

With school ending about the same time as shifts at the large employer United Healthcare next door, about 1,000 employees, plus parents and busses, are trying to get home at the same time.

Schuller says her child has come home up to 45 minutes late on the bus earlier this week.

"We experienced quite a back-up, and we were not sure what's going on," said Head of Schools, Bonnie Jorgenson.

"I can't take a chance with the bus. I need to pick her up and get her home and get her to her game," said Schuller.

Some parents started parking on Rice Lake Road to avoid the traffic congestion, while others waited in long lines.

Many factors were to blame.

"A traffic light was hit by lightning and wasn't working properly. The Arrowhead Road Construction, the road was being paved, " said Jorgenson.

Luckily, road work will wrap-up next Wednesday.

"Once we open those lanes up, once we actuate the traffic signals, it's going to be a significant improvement," said County Traffic Engineer Victor Lund.

UHC hired police to help direct traffic and volunteers are pitching-in as well.

To help make life easier, parents are allowed to pick up students early at 3:30, instead of the usual 4:00 p.m.

A traffic study is also now underway.

"We will be moving back closer to our normal dismissal time, after the Arrowhead Road Construction is finished," said Jorgenson

They hope driving will soon be a walk in the park.

"I feel like it will get worked out," said Schuller. She believes parents will be understanding.

"It's just this little hump we have to get over, til we get to this newer better technology and the newer better design," said Lund.

School officials say traffic has gotten better in the past couple of days and UHC, the County and the school are working together to continue to lower congestion in the area.

There is another new company that is supposed to be locating along Technology Drive.

The data storage company Involta has planned to locate in that area, but they won't add much to the congestion as they plan to have about a dozen positions.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike