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Ola’s heavy traffic eased, officials say

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Traffic is lighter during the afternoon school rush than it is during the morning rush for the Ola school cluster along North Ola Road in east McDonough.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Traffic is lighter during the afternoon school rush than it is during the morning rush for the Ola school cluster along North Ola Road in east McDonough.

McDONOUGH — The morning rush of traffic is moving along more smoothly these days in the Ola community.

School officials said they have addressed morning gridlock near the schools in the east McDonough area, and are seeing positive results from measures they took to mitigate traffic.

“Ola has always had bad traffic, but I think we’re back to normal,” said Ross Iddings, principal at Ola High School, one of multiple schools in the area.

For a fortnight, motorists were delayed by one another en route to work and school in the mornings along roads near the high school. Iddings said North Ola Road and Ga. Highway 81 were filled with more traffic than is typical for the neighborhood, even at the start of the school year, when traffic is routinely heavy.

The high school principal pointed to his school’s new bell start time as part of the issue. He said the start time at the nearby elementary school, at 7:55 a.m., was too close to the high school’s new start time, at 8:05 a.m.

Iddings said the bell time has since been adjusted to a school start time 10 minutes later than first planned. Several bus routes also have been altered to accommodate the bell time.

School buses also will take detours behind the Ola High and Ola Middle school buildings to bypass pedestrians and motorists entering at the front entrances, said Cliff Shearouse, Henry’s director of transportation services.

Bus drivers are using a gravel access drive that officials plan to pave as a permanent drive for buses.

Shearouse said the school district’s maintenance department opened an access gate for the buses this past week. Opening the gates to buses, he said, has shaved about five minutes from their travel time.

“That helped us a lot,” said Shearouse. “We’ve seen a little bit of improvement over the last couple of days.”