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Doherty Dr. closure forces students to change morning routes to school

The city of Larkspur released this map highlighting the many routes to Redwood that bypass the Doherty Dr. closure.

The two-month closure of Doherty Drive for construction will force many students to change their morning routines in order to get to school on time.

The closure began on Tuesday, September 4, and will last for approximately two months. The road will be closed from the entrance to Piper Park to Riviera Circle, the front of school.

Although it will still be possible to park in the front parking lot, it will not be possible to access the school from Magnolia, and cars will have to come from Lucky Drive or William Avenue.

Because of the blockage, students have to search for alternative routes, as well as new methods of transportation, to get to school.

For junior Anders Carlson, the closure of Doherty Drive will completely reroute his morning schedule. On a typical day before construction started, Carlson would leave his Greenbrae home and drop his younger brother off at Kent Middle School, before turning onto College Avenue and heading to Redwood.

“Now we have to go drop [my brother] off, then go all the way to 101 and get on the highway and come around from the highway, instead of just coming from Kent and cutting around through Doherty Drive,” Carlson said.

Carlson, who is driven to school by his parents, said that if the drive becomes too time consuming his parents will force him to ride his bike to school.

Doherty Drive, as seen from the west side of the closure. The road will be closed through the end of November for construction.

Ben Brazee, senior, said that he has been biking to school since he was in 5th grade, and believes that biking is a viable option for students trying to beat the construction-induced traffic.

“I think biking is always the best option,” Brazee said. “Given the amount of people driving, it is always faster to bike at eight a.m. or three p.m. At other times, cars are obviously faster, but when there is traffic bikes can’t be beaten.”

While the front of the school will be inaccessible by going along Doherty Drive, William Avenue provides another entrance to the school.

Senior Alexandra Hood said that she drives on William Avenue every morning, and had expected more traffic.

“I left my house at 7:30 because I thought it would take at least 10 minutes longer, but really there was no traffic at all, and I got there in the normal time that it takes me,” Hood said.

Although Hood lives very close to Redwood, she said that she is not considering biking to school during construction.

“I biked to school a few times when I was a freshman, and seniors put milk cartons and trash in my bike basket and threw stuff at me,” Hood said. “I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. So no, I will not be biking to school.”

In order to alleviate traffic holdups, the City of Larkspur and the Redwood administration are encouraging alternate routes to school and methods of transportation.

In an email sent out to students and parents, Principal David Sondheim wrote, “Carpooling, walking and biking to school as much as possible can make a significant difference.  I encourage you to take this challenge as an opportunity to explore these environmentally friendly commuting alternatives over the next few months.”

Larkspur City Councilmember Larry Chu said that although it’s impossible to predict how backed up the streets will be in the mornings, the amount of traffic will be directly related to how many people change their morning routines to accommodate the closure.

“If people are able to change some of their normal patterns – rather than driving to school they might walk or take the bus or bike or carpool – anything to reduce the number of vehicles,” Chu said. “That will determine how close to normal it is.”

Chu also said that the city would set up traffic control so traffic will flow more quickly. For example, at the four-way stop sign in front of the front parking lot, cars coming from the east won’t have to stop before turning left into the lot.

“With no traffic coming the other way, there’s no reason to really stop,” Chu said. “So we’re going to try to push people straight through into the parking lot at Redwood. If someone’s coming out of the residential area, we might hold up a car long enough for that car to get out. But the idea is to keep things flowing as best as possible when there isn’t the need of a full stop.”

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Diana Tarrazo, Author