GREENWICH — After Greenwich High School dismissed its students at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, congestion from idling parents, pedestrians and waiting buses slowed down traffic on Hillside Road.
Morning and afternoon logjams on the residential street shared by Greenwich High have been an ongoing source of frustration for residents and drivers; town officials are working on ways to alleviate the problem. The snarl Thursday was about usual for a school day afternoon, security personnel, police officers and students agreed.
To lessen the strain, the Greenwich Police Department sent out a series of notices last week about parking rules, and directed parents to the proper pick-up area, which is behind the school. Most drivers appeared to be following directions Thursday, but steady lines of cars were backed up on Hillside nonetheless.
Police Lt. John Slusarz said the first day of school is always a challenge in terms of traffic, and Thursday was no different.
“Gridlock. A lot of frustrated people trying to get through the area. A lot of traffic congestion. Definitely room for improvement,” the police spokesman said. “We put out extra enforcement, to get things moving as smoothly as possible.”
Parents and guardians are supposed to turn into the parking lot that extends behind the school, drop-off or pick-up students there, and then follow the loop that returns to the front of the school.
The lieutenant said it is imperative that motorists do not let students out on the east side of Hillside Road.
“We’re very concerned about parents dropping students off on the wrong side of the road, then running through traffic,” he said. “What we really want is for everyone to follow the rules.”
One police officer directing traffic at the top of Hillside Thursday said drivers who are not paying attention and who idle two car lengths behind the car in front cause the bulk of the traffic moving toward the school parking lot.
A GHS Security guard, who declined to give his name, said he was guarding a faculty parking lot after school to keep parents from parking there, and one irate father cursed at him.
He predicted the real traffic congestion will come next week, once select seniors — from a class of 680 — receive their parking permits. That problem could be mitigated somewhat when new “opportunity blocks” go into effect during last period which will allow some students to leave early.
Dylan Martins, senior, was waiting with Aubrey Faragasso, a fellow senior, Thursday for Faragasso’s parents to pick her up before he walked home.
The back-up happens all year long, Martins said.
“I don’t like it,” Faragasso said.
Some parents tell their kids to walk to the CTtransit bus stop on East Putnam Avenue adjacent to the school, where parents are lined up and waiting, she said.
Her parents have a different strategy: “Wait until everyone else leaves,” she said.