Clearing up traffic talk congestion

Williams: no direct connection with Biddle Center

Farragut Mayor Ron Williams discussed during a recent Town meeting the possibility of staggered morning school times to alleviate morning traffic issues occurring primarily at Farragut Middle and Intermediate schools.

After being repeatedly criticized on social media — including accusations Williams said are false by tying his comments to the Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms project, which in turn stirred up concern among many parents — Williams shared the following clarification in a statement in the following paragraphs:

“When I discuss certain items and they are passed on from person to person, it seems like each person adds to how they interpret the message. You can mention something to 10 different people, and each will have their own version of what they heard.

“Some time ago I mentioned to both Dr. [John] Bartlett (Farragut High School principal) and Susan Horn (Knox County Board of Education District 5 representative and Board chair) in separate conversations that there were a number of traffic studies that would be happening in the future. After all were concluded, we would be looking to see if there were any ways to improve flow during peak times.

“Possible improvements to look at in general could come from traffic-light timing to stage stack-up between lights. Alternate school entry and exit locations could be studied. The path that staging occurs could be considered for adjustment as well. An example would be a zig-zagged cone path in a parking lot that can stack more cars in staging than a straight line to the same entry point.

“Other considerations that could be studied would be the morning and afternoon peak times for the individual schools. We currently have staggered times for the schools, which is based primarily on bus turnaround times.

They now have two schools start at 7:45 a.m. while the other two start 8:30 a.m. The current start-time stagger sees two morning peak times, but prevents the congestion that could happen if all three had the same start time.

“The other possible option would be to compress the start times, like 7:45, 8:10, and 8:30 with bus times staying the same. The same happens in the afternoon with two letting out at 2:45 p.m. and the other two at 3:30 p.m. The afternoon traffic is typically more spread out due to the various after school activities.

“My personal conversation with Dr. Bartlett and Susan Horn concerned the possibility of tweaking the times if the traffic studies showed them an advantage for different start times.

“Please remember that any possible adjustments would have to be discussed and approved by the Knox County School Board. With more possible traffic studies in the future, it would be a little premature to have any discussion at this moment. ...”

“That is a conversation that has to happen at a district level,” Bartlett said. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and the Town of Farragut; their partnership is important to Farragut High School, our students, families and staff.”