Something needs to be done about the upper parking lot at SHS

Story by Ben Fyke, Staff Writer/Editor/Social Media Manager

Any student who parks in SHS’s upper parking lot is familiar with its many problems and shortcomings. Every day, those who are unfortunate enough to park in this parking lot sprint out of the building in an effort to get out in front of the buses. They must enter their vehicles in the next five minutes, or they will be relegated to the long line of cars. If they are parked on the inner section of the lot, they also must depend on someone giving up their right of way. The elite of the lower parking lot, where there is little need to fight with traffic, will inevitably race out of the parking lot ahead of the upper lot and not let any cars go in front of them. The hall monitor halts traffic, and the majority of the upper lot watches all the buses leave in front of them.

This parking dilemma at Stonington High School has been happening as long as the building has existed, and the problem has been well known but never addressed. A solution is necessary, and a lot of the solution is relatively easy to achieve.

A lot of the current problem lies with the lower lot never giving up the right of way to the upper lot at the intersection with Spellman Drive. It makes little sense that an entire parking lot has the right of way over another, and this is why only around a dozen upper lot cars at most get out before the buses each day. There are two ways this could possibly be solved: a traffic light or a three-way stop. The three-way stop is more logistically and financially realistic and would ensure that neither parking lot has dominance.

There is also a problem with the right of way within the upper lot itself. Those leaving the inner portion of the parking lot must yield to those already on the outside, and a lot of people do not let other cars in. Implementing two and three-way stops within the senior lot in a similar fashion to the Spellman Drive intersection would similarly solve this problem.

However, all of these ideas would require changing the traffic plan of the campus which takes a lot of time and money. Another idea that could work is a special dismissal time for seniors. Under this plan, seniors would be dismissed from class five minutes early to give them ample time to get to their cars and leave campus ahead of the buses. This would be treated as a senior privilege, like exam exemption and senior release, that is contingent on grades and behavior. It would both decrease traffic congestion at the end of the day and encourage seniors to continue their effort through the end of the year.

The problem of parking at Stonington High School is a decades-old one, and there are many possible solutions with varying degrees of practicality. Something does need to be done though, as the current situation does not work.