Dothan city commissioners approved funding Tuesday for a new entrance off South Alice Street to provide access to a two-way carpool lane at Dothan Preparatory Academy.

The entrance will feature two lanes inbound and one outbound lane. The design will allow cars to come in, loop around the batting cages, drop off students at the front of the gym area, and come back out, according to Charles Metzger, public works director for the city.

Metzger said his office has worked closely with other departments and Dothan City Schools administrators in identifying the problem and creating a practical solution.

One piece of the problem was the larger number of students who will be attending Dothan Preparatory next year compared to previous years. The Alabama State Department of Education calculated Dothan High’s average daily membership for the 2018-19 school year was 1,157 students.

Next year, it’s likely that around 1,800 students in grades 7-9 will occupy the same space. Nearly all of those students will ride a bus or carpool to and from the campus.

The increased volume will create potential traffic congestion and threaten student welfare.

“It has a lot to do with safety,” said Jay Bruner, DCS transportation director. “You don’t want to have your bus loading area next to your carpool area. Building this roadway will create a separation between the two and alleviate traffic on South Oates.”

The department computer-modeled the best access to the school. The new roadway will help keep an anticipated 600 vehicles off the road and keep them separate from 35-40 expected buses coming in off Selma Street, Metzger said.

“There still may be some issues on Alice Street just because, long-term, there may have to be something out there to widen it; it may have to be signalized,” Metzger said. “Dothan PD – I know they’re going to have a lot of work to look at both locations because this is going to be brand new for everybody.”

Dothan City Schools awarded the bid to Wiregrass Construction for $358,000 at last Thursday’s school board meeting. The school system agreed to put forth $100,000 toward the project’s cost, while the city absorbs the rest.

The city is nearing completion laying down storm drains and pipelines near where the road will be constructed. Wiregrass construction will begin work as soon as possible in order to be complete the road before school starts on Aug. 20.

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