When city councilors last week voted to temporarily block curb cuts for the Jefferson Middle School loop road project, they were apparently unaware of one important piece of information: Curb cuts already exist.
APS superintendent Winston Brooks and APS chief operations officer Brad Winter said during a Journal editorial board meeting Monday that the district could move forward on the controversial road without councilors’ approval using those curb cuts. However, they said they preferred councilors back their plan in its current configuration.
Brooks said the existing cuts were likely installed decades ago as access for portable buildings for the school campus. The curb cuts are 10 to 15 feet from where the loop road would feed exiting traffic onto Lomas, requiring just a short jog off the planned alignment.
Winter, who is also a city councilor, had recused himself from last week’s vote.
City Council Isaac Benton who opposes the loop road and spearheaded the call for the moratorium, said Monday he hadn’t known about the existing curb cuts . “This is the first I’ve heard of it, and if I don’t know about it, I doubt the other councilors do either.”
Benton said he drove to Jefferson Middle School to look at the curb cuts Monday afternoon and said they look more like handicapped accessibility ramps than an entry point for vehicles.
Because the loop road is on APS property and the district is a separate governmental entity, Brooks and Winter say they do not need city approval. The city can deny the curb cutouts, but that is usually an administrative decision by the city engineer. “It is not normally a political issue,” Winter said.
The two-lane loop is a safety issue for students being dropped off and picked up, APS officials have said. It will route vehicles from surrounding streets onto school property. It will be open for 30-45 minutes mornings and evenings and for special events.